He rubbed them with a toothbrush handle
the man with hot eyes
the man with the square face.
He ‘took them back’ each Sunday,
he prepared their surfaces
with his square hands
with his nails as hard as nails, a healthy yellow,
curved birds’ feet, scaly and strong
as the eagle’s who picked up Sinbad.
Then he used a hard rag
before the soft
to spread the polish on in busy circles
shiny and tight
and into the bars of sunlight that slanted
underneath his house;
they helped the leather soak it in.
Last the soft cloth lovingly
brought forth — such ceremony.
(Did he do it all for me, his audience of one?)
His brown lace-up shoes now a high gloss.
The follow-up of tea
bread in papery thin slices
and a dandle on his knee.