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After the Inferno 

After the Inferno 

Back in the 20th century
When I was young
There were shoe shops
And there were shoe stores;
And they were utterly different

The stores were where the shoes,
Both old and new, were stored —
Like a library
More than a warehouse, as they were free
For all to take out

The shoe shops, on the other hand, were
Workshops where the shoes were made
So, when we needed shoes
We’d first head to the store to see
If we could find a pair there
In our sizes

If none were in the stores
We’d visit the shops, and
Make some
Often there were people there
With expertise —

Even late at night
The shoe shop windows glowed
As shadows
Of a group of friends flashed
Constructing all varieties of shoes

Where did they find their materials?
For shoe soles? heels? buckles?
Straps for sandals? Laces?
Ribbons? Buttons would
Require operations such as
Diving to the seafloor for
Shells, or
Slicing rib bones
Into thin ones
Or the night we dragged
Those antlers through the woods
The path remained for months
Someone even built a bench there
Underneath the sycamores
Where we’d eat lunch
After the inferno

 

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Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

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