» Poetry

Santa Maria Novella

Florence, Italy


Outside the Santa Maria Novella basilica, I draw belief

in God for hours on a bench and local and foreign

visitors watch me watching faith. We all stare down


the church. Revisit and retrace an object

as if it can save the millennium, as if it can save me.

I am drawing to you, Love, in straight black lines


as a spectator’s wrinkles deepen. Who is on the watch

for angels and Satan as millennials take self-portraits

filtered to Beautiful for hours in front of the church?


As if to follow as if to Like as if to Share as if to Friend

as if to Capture as if to Block as if to Leak. Is this social

media faith’s purgatory? Please believe in my selves.


Inside my real body, frescoes. Frescoes and sketches of

now dead little i’s and little u’s then purportedly loving.

Love™ – a façade as flat as the green and white lines


mapping the face of the Santa Maria Novella.

All one hundred people in this square freeze

to view order for seconds and minutes and hours


and the lovers kiss and hold it as if Love’s relics

as I wonder who will be discarded upon homecoming as

if trash blown up dew-slicked streets of East Walnut Hills.


u and i kissed and held it for years

in America to peel off the monochromatic

color scheme on Satan’s dividing palette yet


my image you displayed for no one. Unaffirmed,

unshared, you ghosted me. Our love—my grave.


Behind the basilica, the sinking sun births shadow-

twins, keeps loneliness company. Couples go silently

away. Nights, I pretend to be Loved™—paint God.


Where the tour


Where the auction


Emily Spencer

Emily Spencer's poetry is published or upcoming in Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a Global Writing Fellowship from Boston University and a Peter Taylor Teaching Fellowship from the Kenyon Review. Her first book manuscript was a finalist for TTUP's Walt McDonald Prize. She is the editor-in-chief and founder of Black Poetry Review.