Our Lady of Shoes
Olga Berluti, Our Lady of Shoes, who wept silver tears
at the nailed feet of Christ, the wooden statue
looming five meters above her in the long convent
hall where she had lived, from age three, lionizing
an aesthete’s life in white linen and white wool,
murmuring the stations of the cross in a holy rosary.
In raw leather she molds the feet of every man
against the last, buffs the casts with tinctures
of the quarter moon and Italian silk dipped in
chilled champagne, believing it lends luminescence
and protects the warrior soul of the individual among
the herd. Under the cry of calf and ox she rips,
sews the seam, fingers bleeding, a litany of needles
flying like dying stars in pinpoint legion against
the black surface of heel and sole, a melismatic chant.
“We are moving through toward the perfection of gesture,”
she says, and as though to bring humanity one
step closer, she sweeps her limbs to her sides,
arcing refined lines of arms against the negative space
of the marble walls behind her, luring in the masses
like the Virgin Mary.
All ye little sheep, come to me.
When I found you again
I made fast work
of tearing all the blinds
from the windows,
washing ten years
of smoke from the casements,
throwing out your pots & pans.
I wanted to teach you
about light, about the way
it hovers in the dusty
filaments of morning
& not just in the garden
where you kept it shut,
orderly & useful.
In the small green room
you’d lined with bookcases,
papers you’d never need
competed for space.
I wanted to break up
the floorboards & pry out
little treasures buried
& lost by some older
family less lonely than ours:
mute plastic dolls
broken watches whose
gears rattled against
their scratched faces.