for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

The Bootmaker (for One Shoot Sunday)

photo prompt by Rob Hanson

He wraps his broadness
around the air he gathers in quiet
hands poking a wasp caught in a web.
Overhead a patch of sunlight–
he fails to see the breeze
brushing its plum seeds:

his eyes clouded over
for the flights of mourning doves
breathless as once they alit
on her gray hair whiter
than Venus rising before she flew off
leaving him a smile in a cast.

Mornings encase him in this chair
that moulds his spine arched in years
renews his fingers to love the iron last–
he fits today the dancing tips of a shoe
the red-haired woman tears each night
and comes storming in

her breath of fermented cherries
swarms on the leather swatches the jute strings
the hammer and anvil softening them as if
oiling the edges of buried embers
he bends as if cowering in fear as if
a female fox sears him with flaming eyes.

Her eyes waved on tips of ocean weeds
the first time she smiled pulling him
in an undertow of coral reefs
unresisting he yielded to her depths
softer than mollusk flesh
more supple than oyster cheeks.

She braids her red hair this morning
pulls tight her cheeks baring her teeth–
he knows from where she draws water
the well in the woods some elves abandoned
in the spring for an ocean
breeds red dragonflies that turn into wands.

In the pool under the elms
he waits at dusk long after the sun
has turned away long before the moon creeps up
as if shy for its stained cheek and curved chin.
In the wan light she rises over the reeds
afloat, a smile framed by her white hair.

Her red hair catches sparks
from skids of the hammer he blinks
she nudges him—words turn into grunts
from joints of his chair the weight
bearing down on his contracting heart—
“Come tonight I’ll dance for you.”

Her white hair catches foam
from far off billows, she swirls around him—
a braid of tenderness suffuses his darkness:
“Leave the welts on your table to melt in the night,
the lasts will walk away, your chair
will fold onto itself,” she intones lulling him.

She loosens her red hair
baring her neck down to the screaming lights
tearing her apart, her shoes bursting
at the tips, the soles flying
lost in the woods where the elves
now ghosts in the well catch and keep.

She knocks on her bare feet–
the mourning doves unfurl their despair.
She pushes the door open. The half light exhales
stale air from his chair. Up close his head bent
as if intent on her shoes–a spider web
wraps his beard, tighten his lips unsmiling.

(c) Alegria Imperial
Composed from a photo prompt by Rob Hanson and posted for One Shoot Sunday at One Stop Poetry, THE gathering place for poets and artists who share their passion for their art while nurturing each other. Come join us!


June 5, 2011 - Posted by | free verse, narrative verse, poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Wow… you must have spent the better half of a day writing this one. I loved the details of the shop and how the environment interacted with the shoe maker.

    Comment by wolfsrosebud | June 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you, wolfrosebud! I did spend abuot three hours writing it, rushing through it, in fact, on my way way to the last noonday Ascension Mass at the cathedral downtown. And it’s the reason why in fact, the tone is urgent toward the finish as waded through the ‘surreal-ity’ I stepped into. Thanks again for your lovely comment!

      Comment by alee9 | June 6, 2011 | Reply

  2. wow. this is fabulous story telling…such wonderful descriptions…love the spiderwebs in his beard at the end, leaves us with quite the image…

    Comment by brian | June 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, Brian! I’m glad you liked my first attempt here at narrative verse. Yes, I love how that spider came out! But it’s an image I’ve seen as a child not among humans but on statues that a deaf mute uncle sculpt; he did them for the church and the cemetery. And such images just crept it as I imagined the bootmaker dying in his sleep with no one with him.

      Comment by alee9 | June 6, 2011 | Reply

  3. You took this tool shed and transformed it into a garden of life, lush with natural imagery and intense in narrative tone.

    Comment by dustus | June 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks, Adam! I love how you pull out the essence from a poem and turn on it the spotlight!

      Comment by alee9 | June 6, 2011 | Reply

  4. The white hair, the red hair, the being(s) at war for the shoemaker’s soul here, one he seems more than ready to relinquish–a vivid, lorca-esque journey through the psyche, and full of jewel like images–I esp like “…he yielded to her depths/softer than mollusk flesh
    more supple than oyster cheeks…” and the dragonflies that turn into wands.

    Comment by hedgewitch | June 6, 2011 | Reply

    • Your words are invaluable gems, Joy! …’lorca-esque’! I must really be doing something good! And more and more, I’m not even aware how these images and lines weave themselves in. I must really be a being that belongs ‘there’ in Lorca’s reality because I feel so ‘me’ being in it. Thanks again, so much!

      Comment by alee9 | June 6, 2011 | Reply

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