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two poems: night and shoes


awake from a dream,
I squint at three dispassionate numbers,
stare them down like it’s high noon
(but it’s 3:45).
then I sigh and flutter closed,
sink down, burrow deep,
but it's too late:
behind my eyes
the dream is a poem now, scarcely even born,
yet she wants me to
come get up,
come play,
come feed me
she’s yanked the covers back,
knotted them at my knees
so I’m twisted and pinned.
and I realize
she’s been dancing on
the mountain of my hip,
because it’s creaking under the weight of her insistent jig.
and i feel heavy there with stiff fatigue,
yet still i rise,
resigned, to deal with her.


every evening
my father came home,
groaned into his chair,
and asked me,
his eldest,
his daughter,
to pull off his boots.
I knelt,
grasped the heel,
pulled against him, wiggled, tugged,
until I’d fall back, giggling,
my hands gripping warm empty leather,
softened by a million unspecified footsteps.
the peek of pasty leg encased in dark sock
would make me laugh, embarrassed.

and at just the right time
he’d bring out the cedar-wood box with the angled top,
stocked with brushes, bottles, tins,
and cloths, clean and soft, yet dark-mottled,
and he’d polish each shoe,
show me how careful murky whorls
would disappear into scattered flecks of soot
until only gleaming black remained.

the boots became wing tips,
but by that time we had put away these childhood games
for a more grown-up version of tug of war,
and he had become too busy for the cedar-wood box
and the sacrament of the shoes.

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