Benjamin Solomon

Benjamin Solomon’s work has appeared in One Story, Diagram, and The Southeast Review. He is a founding editor of The Open Face Sandwich, a biennial anthology of uncommon prose.

Work by Benjamin Solomon

Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

The next day a gaunt man pulls it from the dumpster and holds it aloft with his arms extended. He presses it into his face and smells it, then bunches it into a ball and stuffs it into his large plastic bag. Later he tosses it onto the bare mattress in his apartment’s cluttered living room and falls asleep with it under his head like a pillow. All around him are piles of weathered and dirty toys, sorted into groups of similar objects: here a pile of small metal cars, there a pile of bigger plastic dump trucks and tractors, ...

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Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

A week later when the quilt arrives at the Second Chance Thrift store, a sorter hangs it by a large metal specialty hanger on a rack against the far back wall, pressed between a stained blue comforter and a yellow afghan with fraying edges and a fist-sized hole in the center. It hangs undisturbed but for the occasional brush of a child’s hand, moving down the aisle and touching everything on the rack. A faint and stale odor combination of sweat, dust, and mothballs soon coats its surface, and by night it glows weakly in the red-orange light from the ...

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Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

It leaves on a lori after midnight, packaged in plastic and cardboard, traveling northeast across 490 kilometers of vacant fields and settlements, past Tiruppur and Erode, past reservoirs dotted with dust-colored flamingos barely visible in the moonlight, past Salem and Villupuram, to the sea port of Chennai. Here, in the morning, men in checkered sarongs unload the boxes and resettle them inside a battered steel container. Giant pincers lift the container into the sky and place it on a cargo ship, and the next day it departs, sailing south down the coast, stopping briefly in Colombo before crossing the Indian ...

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Benjamin Solomon

Physiognomy of a Quilt

The quilt does not become alive immediately. First the coarse-cotton fabric must be woven, the intricate patches cut and sewn, the white cotton batting pressed between the patchwork top and the solid whole-cloth backing. Then the bundling in burlap, the jostling truck ride from the sewing unit to the quilting center, and the long wait in a pile of starchy doppelgangers. And still it takes blood to bring a manufactured thing to life. This time, it happens when a quilter pricks her fingertip and gasps aloud, causing the women at her table to glance at one another, because if the foreman finds even a freckle-sized stain of blood he’ll dock twenty rupees each from their weekly wages. She keeps stitching, plunging her finger deep into the guts of the quilt and staunching the wound in the batting, hoping nothing will seep through to the top or bottom layer and ruin her last hour of work.

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