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Sheldon Lee Compton

A Nostalgia

I used a towel that I had used the day before, and the day before that. When I covered my face to dry my beard I inhaled the scent gathered inside the towel. It smelled like a basement in Virgie. The basement was always cool, a steady 65 degrees during all seasons. Must or mold, a mixture of oil and grease, draped the air; floating invisible was wood still hot from sawing and the scent of that warmth. I finished drying my beard, thought of Ancient Egypt. There’s a town about 100 kilometers south of Luxor called Qurta that is home to the earliest signs of an intelligent, ancient band of Egyptians. There are no great pyramids, only flatland that, all at once, rises up to a sheer wall of earth. If you climb this wall of earth, what you find are carvings of animals into the stone face. Many are of bulls. These are the early sketches that would show up later in places like Luxor and Cairo. These are the odd reverse-echoes moving over the land like a nostalgia, like a small scent that opens up a civilization.

Sheldon Lee Compton is a short story writer and prose poet from Kentucky. He is the author of seven books, most recently the short story collection Sway. His work has appeared in Always Crashing, Best Small Fictions, Degrees of Elevation: Stories from Contemporary Appalachia, People Holding, and New World Writing, among others. He teaches in the MFA program at Concordia University, St. Paul.


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