Man Putting on Boots

By Mattea Dean

Maybe if he slept for a day with me

and we could bear to be there forever

only loving, we might succeed, always

the words said perfectly: every I love you

etching into our brain stems, rhythm

of our pulses in tandem, the hot

and dense fog of our breaths

in the blanket cocoon, that comforting

soft shelter against the crumbling

plaster walls. Only yards away


his boots loom at us

threatening to overcome

our serenity

inside this private world

by forcing themselves onto his feet. But they just

sit there to wait or rot

in the corner, and I wish we could,

if we only lay still right here,

know each other better than the rest. But

then, so long as the boots plant themselves in the corner

we’ve got no time, our bodies cling

to one last sliver of heat

to rightly assure us, the dusty

leather skin of their bodies

slouched there. Old and worn, they whisper

their pleas in asthmatic voices

ingrained with accumulated wisdom

as he rises to put them

onto his cracked feet

like the rest of him, a mass of scars

in ropy skin and well-worn arms

flexing their lengths outward

with a ripple of light.