I treated my old boots with paraffin,
and as I turned the seams above a flame
I watched the leather soak in melting wax
like dried-up earth absorbing summer rain.
But rather than preventing muck and sleet
from seeping through, the treated leather picked
up marl dug out from pits along the banks
of rivers dammed by ice and melting snow.
I found work in a factory that spring,
and there the wax absorbed hot burls of chrome
spit out from lathes and taps on late-night shifts.
Then, walking home alone, I liked to watch
the leather glitter as I passed the girls
who posed in vapor light on chain-linked streets.
Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry, 2018 ▪ Shortlist