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Country Store

Thomas Lawrence Long

The white frame rises beside a county road

You often travel and pass into oblivious night.

Picked-over fruit in long porchside bins waits for

Revival in the morning’s delivery truck. Cloudy light

From whitewashed walls and tin ceiling drops through

The door and runs across shoulder gravel like hope.

Some night going home you will decide

To stop here. But not tonight; headlights grope

Through dark. Beyond rickety produce stalls you

Would find Octagon bars ranked among hierarchs, clothes

Pins, toilet camphor, sardines in tins, bread, playing

Cards, dream books, sacks of dried beans promising order in rows

Of merchandise and dry goods. Everything you need is here.

Dust and shelves float in the incandescent glow

Above the clerk’s head, who sits patiently smoking

A Lucky Strike waiting for you beneath the slow

Whirring of ceiling fans, the paddle-winged

Seraphim humming incessant electric praise.

This all you need? The habitual question turns

Into its own answer as he takes a bill and pays

You back in change. That night you finally stop won’t seem

So important. Forgotten, it will return quick as starfall.

Then you will understand why you stared through windshields

So queerly at the moon like an exit in night wall.

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