“If I had known they were going to do this, I
would have become a shoemaker.”
–Albert Einstein, after the United States
dropped atomic bombs on Japan.
In supple leather he might have formed,
rich in full-grain brown
or in sinuous sheen of black
stretched across his workbench to tap
oxford, boot, wingtip,
a scuttling cloud in any blue afternoon
passing the open window of his shop.
If he paused, it was to watch
not so much the shadows flickering
through the glass in the summer heat,
but the figures that made them,
the only figures he saw passing,
their bursts of laughter igniting
the graceful sweaty step
worked by hammer and awl
lingering, blooms of pollen in the street.
If he paused, with a shoetack at his lip,
it was only to contemplate,
reflected in that light,
how the hand-made arch could hold
the curve of bone, the caressed
skin its lustre, the shapely fit
model the taper of the toe
pointing its way over ground
where a life is walked,
stitched, oiled, dressed,
not needing, from one end of that sole
to the other, more sanctity for it.
Jessica Jopp lives in Pennsylvania. Her poetry has appeared in Seneca Review, Denver Quarterly, and The Spoon River Poetry Review.