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“Take off your shoes,” he chuckles when they meet,
Glasses on, to hide his rural glance,
“And nylons – let me see those perfect feet,”
A bent towards dereliction in his stance.
He claims it is her high and compact arch,
The first two toes’ precisely matching height,
Imagining her barefoot in a marsh,
Vulnerable to asp and insect bite.
Persistently, embarrassingly pointed,
He presses her – first raw, then sentimental:
Christ’s own disciples’ feet not so anointed,
Nor more adored the cloth-bound Oriental.
To her, however, (resolute romantic),
Suspicious of the slyly sensual,
The overtures seem vainly automatic,
His mannerisms ever casual.
He’s restless, and while she can empathize,
Assiduous and diligent to please,
She keeps each foot tucked in its snug high rise,
Her laces tied completely. She foresees
Herself upon some summer afternoon
On an ottoman squatting on a shopfront floor
With russet walls and carpets of maroon,
Before a boy upon his knee, before
A boy who — loyal salesman — takes her heel,
To murmur, in our back room, there is more…;
Whose livelihood’s afoot, his impulse real,
Sincerely earned in this poor, family store.