Shoe Shine

by Kathy O’Fallon

When I stepped up
and sat down in the king’s chair
backed up to concrete and bustle,
horns blasted like shotguns,
competed with hawkers and buskers.
Rag and brush, grease and wax,
dye stain stink, hunched shoulders,
cigar butts crushed in the ashtray—
smoke trails of carbon and pepper.

My boot outstretched as if to kick
an invisible enemy, every gray thing
around and inside me lifted,
erased the old Sunday resentments
buried in the Kiwi label
rubbing Dad’s wingtips into mirrors,
his trumpet mocking from the basement,
blackening the stars from my palms.