by Justin Danzy

He needed money for shoes,  
his heel bruised and bulging  
out the back of his sock.  
He showed it to us, his foot,  
placed it on the table near an omelette.  
It was an ugly foot, all ashy and calloused  
and crooked-toed. His achilles thickened  
with scar; his pinky toenail missing.  
He needed money for shoes, Isaac,  
with his factory worker feet, his clothes ragged  
like a sharecropper. He was from Chicago  
and a spiritual man, he said, his brothers  
named Abraham and Methuselah. A half-sister  
named Faith. He needed money for shoes  
and a job and a prayer group. We had none of it,  
our prayers stale and mechanic, pockets shallow.  
I showed him mine so he’d believe, Isaac,  
a spiritual man, his foot causing  
the coffee’s surface to ripple, which it did  
even after he set his foot down  
and ambled into the morning light,  
his backpack with the broken strap  
slung around him like armor, his foot ugly  
and exposed, like his black gums  
when he said he loved me  
and reached both hands towards mine  
so he could hold them.

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