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5.2
Stephen Longfellow
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Interlude

The shadow on the fence is my love's. It's a clear day and she is working in our garden. I like watching her shadow, happy to be picking tomatoes this late in September, yellow leaves falling, black walnut and silver maple. The fence I built a year ago still looks new. The burning bush is heating up. The air has no right to be this clear, her shadow singing, I am here.

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5.2
Hagia Sophia, Venice Florida

Church Of The Holy Wisdom’ . . . cathedral built at Constantinople under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. It is a unique building and one of the world's great monuments, despite time's ravages. ―Encyclopedia Britannica An American lady who paid ten cents to visit St. Sophia was so disappointed that she wanted her money back. ―Herbert J. Mueller, The Uses of the Past In the morning, I emerge from absence, and in the lull before I grasp exactly who and where I am, she touches the tip of my tongue― What was I about to say? ―Now, on the way to the dentist, the weatherman tells me what I already know. And, I see her standing patiently in a bus-stop kiosk, waiting out the rain, her backdrop an old fresco of swastikas and names separated by hearts. The flotsam of food wrappers awash at her feet are the remnants of offerings. And, she is the cement-cast Virgin close by the highway, in an up-ended bathtub, half-buried, her gaze lowered modestly, arms open in acceptance, the windows of the nearby trailer as clouded as the broken eyes of yesterday’s catch. The cars swim by, old and new and all the same to her. My little dashboard doggy nods in agreement. And, she lays me down in her chair, hygienist with the sad eyes. She sees my every sin, time’s wear on the bone of me: fillings glinting like veins among a year’s worth of slag heaps and tailings, the pumps working hard, and the little miners sweating away night and day. Clearing the debris, she touches a nerve, but whispers softly in my ear forgiving me. Later, she offers me a box of dental floss as I rinse. After the storm, I walk along the shore and collect the fossil shark teeth washed up from the Gulf, glossy and perfect, among the gaping mouths of empty seashells. A tour boat riffles by and, masquerading as its figurehead, she looks resignedly foolish with her jutting breasts and fishtail. Away, on the horizon, beyond the shifting mosaic of light on nervous water, porphyry columns of rain rise to the shadowed dome of a thunderhead.

Stephen Longfellow currently lives above a junk shop in Wabasha, Minnesota, where he spends much too much time watching the Mississippi go by his window. His poetry has appeared recently or will be out soon in Rhino, Underground Voices, The Pedestal, Review, Prick of the Spindle, The Literary Review, Prism, and the Word Riot tenth anniversary anthology. Steve loves war cake, a holiday family tradition that requires no ingredients not easily available during WW II—His dear sisters, Liz and Barbara, sends them to him beginning in November—Recipe available upon request. Steve may be reached at slongfellow@gmx.com.