Dawn Promislow
late Renaissance 

on the train from Roma to Firenze
you’re across from him
looking at him
with Last Judgement eyes

you remember

the laced trees on Viale di Trastevere, and the day-and-night whine of tram wheels (that you haven’t mentioned yet), the slow, low Tiber, greening, and the lateness, latening. there were your heavy bags, and the heat (of course), and the cappucino on the steel chairs overlooking the morning street, long ago. there were ruins and the ruined, stoned, and other things you won’t (can’t) mention, a white-tiled room with light in it, and the evening’s red wine

shards sharp and old
then smooth
lately turned, then re-turned

confessions and digressions
late, a worn wooden pew

now on this train
he’s wearing
a shirt
that is blue

that colour always suited him (you used to say)

every Late Renaissance Madonna
wore that blue
that Sistine blue
Michelangelo blue

but you’re the angel
Madonna too

and this afternoon
on the train
hastening to sundown

he’s looking at you
then a map, bound in blue
you wondering

how it is that ruins and the ruined, the white dead

can become
(how that colour suits him still)

because that blue
is becoming


a clear and new
a reborn
a loved and dazzling, thing


Dawn Promislow was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has lived in Toronto since 1987. Her writing has appeared in Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Numéro Cinq, StoryTime, SLiP (Stellenbosch Literary Project), and has been anthologized in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 5, 2010 and African Roar 2012. Her debut short story collection, Jewels and Other Stories (TSAR Publications, 2010), was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2011 and was named as one of the 8 best fiction debuts of 2011 by The Globe and Mail (Canada). She is writing her second book, a novel.