Route 7 Review - Page 69

THE SHEEP NEAR HADRIAN’S WALL BY S.A. Volz In this monument of lichen and stone lies the extent of an empire. Here was Rome, far from the Tiber, the Seven Hills, the gilded visions of marble and arch. Here was Rome, though an ocean lay between this place and the roads that led back. This was the force of civilization, a wall snaking from shore to shore—gateways, turrets, and forts patrolled by the legions who with javelin and sword kept watch over barbarous Britannia. Children climb upon stair steps of rubble, and standing by a late watchtower I find myself thinking of sheep instead of the soldiers— the sheep that are grazing as they grazed two thousand years before, the fluff of dirty wool amid the sprawl of tumbling hills, the shepherd boy blowing on his pipes to Pan, his ruddy face turned towards the wind. But that music is lost; there is no echo— nothing of spirits, not even the creak of bone against bone—only the spitting rain and the sharp smell of sheep that urges me back to the bus. S.A. Volz lives in Evansville, Indiana. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Gravel Literary Journal, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal, and the Red Earth Review.