Friday, March 13, 2015

Boot Black


My leather boots, made in Tunis,
Ankle high, gleam
like raven plumage

Byron, sixty-five,
on the corner of
Mulberry and Houston,
Shines shoes for a dollar

He pours his magic potions
Onto the boots from tall bottles,
One after the other,
Buffing from side to side
with a soft worn cloth
between each application

Byron is an old boot black, he says,
from the age of nine
living on 127th Street
plying his trade through Harlem
Taking home his earnings
to his mother
Where d’you get those bills, she’d ask,
Selling drugs?
No, shining shoes at the barber’s shop
I give him five

© Liza Béar March 2015