Jeff Newberry's most recent book is the novel A Stairway to the Sea (Pulpwood Press, 2016). His writing has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, most recently in Peacock Journal, Atticus Review, and Snake Nation Review. Find him online at www.jeffnewberry.com.
Letter from St. Augustine, the Oldest City
star (noun): a fixed luminous point in the night sky that is a large,
remote incandescent body like the sun.
I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.
I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
My cross-country friend: when I was a child,
I used to lie down in the back
of my parent’s station wagon
when drove home at night
& stare at the domed bowl of sky.
On moonless nights, the spotlights
at Tyndall Airforce Base near my home
shone sharp blades of light
& I wondered where they ended.
Light never ends. I would one day.
One day, no one will ever know
I was even here. At ten, the openness
of space turned my stomach.
I felt tiny, insignificant, just a voice
whispering with awe into a canyon.
My voice never bounced back
because I stayed silent.
Tears streaked down my cheeks
for reasons I still don’t grasp.
Here in America’s Oldest City™
you can visit the Fountain of Youth.
It’s just swamp, nothing special,
not a tide pool that will roll back
years the way some say Christ
will roll back the heavens one day.
I imagine Ponce de Leon, half-mad
with bug bites, slashing his way
though the Florida wilderness.
How the forest would have hummed.
The sky was an unscarred blue blade.
How angry he must have been,
rising, the waters still streaming
down his face, still the same age
he’d been. I know he imagined
some moment in his childhood,
when he stared up at the sky,
saw the burned embers of stars
& felt the pull of immortality.