POETRY February 3, 2023

(Heavy Metal) Boots

How the heft of the heels, the hook and eyes, the being all zipped in pebbled, pitted animal skin reduced my once functioning whole to disfigured parts. How my high arches—those delicate hills under pretty little feet—collapsed flat, timeworn, stressed out from the strain of raised veins and mangled muscles. How hammered toes, hairline broken tiny bones, and long ago stunted growth plates in uncreased tanned hide waiting for the wrinkles of wear, of time, to wriggle in. How I pulled the laces tight, so tight, those stripped frayed strings, so thick black sock blood stuck to flayed heels and bubble blisters leaking liquid—such sweet white sap of friction—smelled good, so good, like musty insides, like organic rot. The persistent agony of wanting to put them on again. Bouts of deep need. To pull them. Slow and tight. So tight. Around now scarred ankles; up, up fat varicose legs; over the border of shredded knees; and remember how they edged—teased—the bottom of my black spandex skirt. How I want them still. How easy it was to break this body. How now I know. How I loved—love—the way they hurt.

Naomi Bess Leimsider has published poems and short stories in Anti-Heroin Chic, Wild Roof Journal, Planisphere Quarterly, Syncopation Literary Journal, and elsewhere. She has been a finalist for the Acacia Fiction Prize, the Saguaro Poetry Prize, and the Tiny Fork Chapbook Series Contest. In addition, she received a Pushcart Prize nomination this year.