Arlene Ang

Exactly five years old. They're scuffed, unstrung.
I slip them off and on, like thumbtacks in
a voodoo doll. The waiting room grows skin,
dark areoles where still life had once hung.

A door fogs shut. Back then, the straps were lung-
pink soft, a treble clef around the shin.
They're gone, torn out, the way car thefts begin
with hi, hello or mothers eat their young.

I'm next. The book blurs on page ten. I thumb
through Keats and someone called Apollinaire.
Both dead. Like fist fights on the beach, old shoes.

And still they hurt. A nurse waves my name from
her list. She shows me how, the when, the where.
My three-inch heel breaks down. It's all bad news.

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