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For My Grandmother’s Feet, Swollen Again

But for one pair of storebought boots,

   your two feet grew up barefoot

      with no idea you’d be bedridden,

        expecting for the last time at forty

your seventh child. And your sixth—

   your youngest daughter—my mother,

      would play shoe shop with a string.

        It’s her favorite story: how she laced

your feet with pretend ribbon,

   pretend satin, pretend lace,

      how she tied a bow and said,

        How about this pair, Mama,

would these do? I can’t say

   I was there, but the half of me

      that was round and fully formed

        nested in the mouth of her ovary,

waiting to be allowed down

   its long swan throat, and at times

      when I’m too sick to get out of bed,

        I curl the edge of a haunted sheet

between my toes to feel

   a pair of imaginary slippers

      made by a little girl who waits

        for me at the edge of my bed. This memory—

is it mine to have? My feet

   are three sizes too big, paddle feet,

      unpolished, feet that never bore

        the weight of child and might never

will. But still, when my body fevers,

   when I am weak, there is something

      bittersweet threading the loneliest part

        of me, something that says, Now,

it’s time. I’ve made you new shoes.

   Stand up.

from Fanny SaysFind it in the library

Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2015
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.

Published in Nickole Brown Poems

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