Vol 9, Num 5 :: 2010.03.05 — 2010.03.18
They were there for the taking —
still-new light brown cowboy boots.
He wouldn’t see me if he was praying right,
and the Indonesian mosque speaker
should drown out my footfalls.
With the first boot in hand —
behind the office building
and around the corner from the praying man —
I knelt in the dirt beside the ditch
and held on tight, baptizing this boot
in the name of freedom, American capitalism,
and my Christian correctness.
I tip-toed back to his prayer mat
careful not to spill any of the ditch water
dammed by the infidel’s boots,
ditch water that would wash his feet,
cleanse him from the outside in-
but the prayer ended and the prayer
rose to find his boot muddy and ruined-
so I turned the other cheek
and ran in the name of self-preservation.
I ran from the promises
of what he planned to do to me,
ran until I could hide behind my father
and cowered there until rage turned to reason —
the ransom a mere twenty dollars
for a new pair of boots. My father
never again spoke of it,
and to my surprise
never made me pay
for wasting his money,
or mocking poverty,
or giving another man every reason
to hate me.