Posted tagged ‘respect for order in world of chaos poem’

Socks, Shoes

April 27, 2015


Socks, Shoes

He had learned from his mother,
whose same fingers managed
to knead dough
and flatten
sun-dried cloth, easing out rumple with such calm
authority that the fabric
wanted to bow repeatedly
into folds
just as bread rose
to greet her,
that order was part of a recipe for
a good life, that self-respect included
respect for one’s lowliest objects, that these too shared
the same sun, had their proper–that is, rightly given–
space–like prayer five times
a day, like the direction of
one’s kneel and once planted
in that direction, like the placement set
by the red wool rug whose woven temple showed
the forehead where
to touch, and too, the toes,
and so,
though order had fled from his life
like teeth
and that bulk he used to carry
at his arms, the small soft fold
at his belly, and the certainty that used to warm
his forehead when it felt the brush of that red wool as sure
as the heat
from his mother’s breads;  still, as the swordsman waited
behind his mask,
he thanked God that his hands were as
free for this moment as birds whose wings alone
have been clipped but not their legs diced
together and gently rolled one sock
into one shoe, the other sock into
the other, so that they might not
be lost,
so that they would be there
when next needed,
so that all would be right
in their world, a world he still
could care for, honor.


This is a draft poem for Bjorn Rudberg’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem that includes a recipe.  It is some poem in a bunch written for April 2015 National Poetry Month.  (There were a couple of days of writing two.)  (I mention this in case I don’t make it to the end!)

This poem was inspired by a photograph by Gilles Peress in a 1999 New Yorker magazine taken in Bosnia of a corpse of a person executed in the fighting there in the 90s.  The corpse was a man who died next to his shoes, where each sock was rolled into the shoe.  In the case of that photo, it was not clear whether the man was one of the last Bosnians killed by the Serbs, or a Serb killed by the Bosnians in the early days of retribution. In my poem, I was thinking also of the killings undertaken by ISIS in more recent days.

My own picture was made by me and not a very valid reflection of the Peress; I’m not totally happy with it, but this is April, and have to move on.  All rights reserved.