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

Carolyn Abbs

Carolyn Abbs

Carolyn Abbs grew up in the south of England, and now lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. She has published poems in journals and anthologies such as Westerly, Cordite, Rabbit, Writ Poetry Review, The Best Australian Poems 2014, and in Axon: Creative Explorations (issue 9), a series of ten poems, with photography by her sister, Elizabeth Roberts. Her PhD is from Murdoch University, where she taught in the School of Arts (English) for a number of years. She has published an academic book Virginia Woolf: a mosaic of nonverbal arts (2010). Carolyn is currently working towards a first collection of poetry.