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POPPY SEEDS / Leonard Kress After stopping at the bakery I stepped inside the tiny Russian Church behind the slaughterhouse and pressed my Ups against the icon glass, and though the priest began to swing his censer back and forth, faster, higher, as though the smoking golden globe was his blond daughter on a playground swing—whose white communion dress now whooshed above her face, breathless from his mighty push, my knees went weak and bent to find the floor just as the hidden choir voices met to sing the Mass's final word—Spassiba! and when a sweeter voice, younger than the rest, pierced the iron chord and fluttered helplessly above before it vanished into the risen Christ captured by the ceüing vault, my forehead grazed the tiles, my Ups the ground—just like the grieving Russian women across the San who welcomed roaming beggars in case their painful stare bestowed the riches of a Saint. I tasted salt, not from the crying icon but from the heavy boots that tracked it from the sidewalk slush after the elder scattered it like feed. My hand had crushed the spiral cake, ripped through the paper bag, and from the tiny perfect sUts, just like the beUy of a frog a curlew's beak has torn beside a pond, countless seeds, sweet and dark, now burst. 27S · The Missouri Review ...


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