Chris Kinsey

This poem is from Swarf published by Smokestack Books in 2011.

Sunday Shoes

          When church preached its sacred mysteries
           I always thought of dad’s shoes and his shed.
           Polished, light tan, Sunday best shoes -
           so unlike his work boots,
           sooty toecaps nicked with steel scars
           like miniature domes of night sky,
           oily with Wren’s Liquid Dubbin.

           I didn’t realise, when I snatched the packet
           from a Woolworth’s spike and helped to officiate
           the Stick-a-sole ceremony, that I, too, was being prepared.
           I roughed each leather sole with a wire brush,
           resisted the urge to bite the shiny rubber soles
           that would coat his tread like liquorice whirls.
           I stood back when he hammered segs into heels and toes,
           clamoured to have them on my shoes so I could stride,
           and strike sparks, though he was at pains to silence his.
           When he knelt to pray, I thought the silver crescents
           a gift from the patron saint of Blacksmiths.

           The strong glue set me tracking the Holy Spirit
           to the shelves of the shed: to White Spirit
           and Esso Blue, aromatic liquids with volatile halos,
           violet Meths the colour of Lent vestments.
           Was the Feast of Pentecost done
           with sneaky flicks of cigarette lighters?
           I sampled 3 in 1 Oil as it suckled my bike chain
           and prepared for the grace of sensation,
           the sacrament of words. Later, I relished Hopkins:
           All things counter, original, spare, strange:
           because I trusted his ooze of oil crushed.

           Those tan shoes outlasted my churchgoing.