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Larry's Boots


They were black snakeskin, the scales peeling,
the toes curved up, the soles scuffed. I waited
until the room was empty, then touched them
like I have seen a friend touch her mother’s feet
hidden in the blue and gold folds of her sari
and saw him standing against the brick wall
of some Richmond bar, watching a bad band
play beautifully, whispering a poem he never wrote
down, a poem about a rattlesnake asleep in the shade
of a rock in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
The fetishization of the dead embarrasses the living.
But someone had decided to put Larry Levis’s
cowboy boots on display, and there was no way
I was going to leave before touching them.
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