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The Other Shoe

by Knute Skinner

“My other shoe’s got to be somewhere,” she said,
“or does this bed of yours eat them up?”
I watched her head disappear–
leaving a view of her man’s red shirt,
unbuttoned but covering her back,
and of her bottom with its reinstated
white cotton panties.

“Success at last,” came her muffled voice,
and she scuttled backward on her knees.
“Christ, but it’s dirty in there,” she said,
dropping her sneaker and picking at a dust ball.
“You should hire me to clean your place, professor.
It’s another one of my talents.”

“Don’t professor me here,” I said, reaching out,
but she was up on her feet too quick
and stepping into her jeans.
Her hair was wildly awry, but it hardly mattered.
It suited her red face and its lack of make-up.
They don’t make them as old as they used to.

I was glad I wouldn’t have to give her a lift
back to her dorm–
she had said she preferred to walk–
but I did wonder what we would say to each other,
what arrangements we would make.

At the door she gave me a kiss
so brief that we scarcely touched.
“I like your perfume, professor,” she said.
“You might give me a bottle sometime.”
And with that she was gone.

I did not have to drive her back.
But I would have to read her essay on Georgia O’Keefe,
making the usual allowances, of course,
and perhaps a few more.


Taken from The Other Shoe, Pavement Saw Press, 2005

Knute Skinner: Selected Poems

The River