The Kind Of Flat

He had the kind of flat where,
after you’ve left,
you want to burn your shoes.

So we did.
Orbiting a campfire, we shod clogs,
kicked at the slippery heels of gumboots.
Penknife blades glinted in pyrelight
as we sawed through sandal thongs
like coroners cutting tendons.
We took comfort in the midwifery
of wellington removal – kindred
fingers closing through rubber
round wedged heels
and damp toes, then tugging.
Burning brogues and loafers soughed wetly,
moisture beading on cracked skin
before they fell in on themselves.
A silhouetted woman
held her stiletto at eye level,
then snapped its heel like a beak.

We stood and watched pumps,
plimsolls, platforms and slip-ons
as they simplified in the fire,
some of us socked, some barefoot.
Over hours, the mound shrunk to a sunset.
Ferrous green flames
lapped upwards like new shoots
from cleats and steel toecaps,
the rivets in diving boots.
Nobody said anything to break
the stench. No one held hands.
Hot gusts made us nauseous.
Our eyes ran.

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