Richard Spilman


In Kyoto together,
and she needed walking shoes.
We found a store on a neon corner,
and the clerks gathered round.
Hard to express the delicate dance
of her fingers, as if words
were merely an opening: intricate
as paper cranes, hypnotic
as the tea ceremony at Jotokugi temple.
The clerks gabbled like geese
in a great worry because, despite
her petite-four dress, her shoes
were nines—monstrous!
They tried this, tried that.
Her callused feet arched
like swells on a Hokusai sea.
They bathed in its spume,
and in their Keystone Kops routine,
I saw myself, trying to make things fit
with the inventory I had in stock,
while the tide fled
beneath my fingertips.

Richard Spilman

is the author of In the Night Speaking and the chapbook Suspension. His poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Southern Review, Poetry East, The Gettysburg Review, and Image.