Tuesday Poem

Making Foots

Many a foot
was chopped
off an African highgrass runner
and made into
a cotton picking
plowing peg
was burned away into
two festering runaway sores
was beaten around
into a gentleman’s original
club-foot design

They went for our feet first
for what we needed most
to get ‘way

My papa’s feet
are bad
once under roof
his shoes are always
the first to go
a special size is needed
to fit around
ankle bones broken at birth

Sore feet
standing on freedom lines
weary feet
stomping up a southern dust bowl march
simple feets
wanting just the chance
(just one)
to Black Gulliver jump
a Kress lunch counter
or two
and do a Zulu Watusi Zootsuited
instead of a fallen archless
wait wait wait
for the time to come
Him wanted to put his feet up
and sip himself some

Papa, how you say you’ll take that coffee?
Oh Baby, just make it black and bitter like me.

My papa’s feet are bad
they beat our feet around with billy clubs
and by our raggedy feet
had hoped to drag us all away

Country corners
and city curbs is where
they hold my keepsakes
some of my brothers
who brush their I-talian skins off
on the backs
of steam-pressed
pants legs

Shoes first
they’ll tell you
shoes above all else
they’ll show you

If your black foot
ever wakes you up
in the night
wanting to talk about something
aching there
under the cover
out loud
for no apparent

There is reason

by Nikky Finney
from Rice
Sister Vision Press, 1995