States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | ‘Orphan’s Boot’ by Carolyn Abbs

(found in rubble beneath a church — New Norcia)

Distempered walls crowd in cold at the old
schoolroom, resonant with the chant of times
tables, scrape of chalk on slate; a nun might
have leant over a child, white dust on her cuff.

This afternoon, light from a slit window catches
a silver crucifix and reflects onto the dome
of glass cabinet, like sunlight over water.
The exhibit: a small suede boot, without laces.

I sense the vitality of a diminutive foot −
slip my hand into dusty suede and press
tips of my fingers into indents of toes.
I want so much to believe
the child's foot pulled from the trapped shoe
                                              and ran and ran...

 

Carolyn Abbs