Puppy between feet

by Kerry Hammerton

from the Outland series, Roger Ballen 1999

The feet are misshapen,
as if someone haphazardly
moulded them from clay,
and breathed life into them
before they were properly formed.

These are not feet that you could kiss:
grime and callouses encase them,
halfcut malformed toenails,
blackened heels,
marked by half open sores.

And between these feet
a closed-eyed puppy cupped
in stained fingers.

Everything casts a black shadow,
the feet, the puppy, the fingers,
even the rough sack blanket
that hides legs and arms and bodies.

There is nothing to distract your eye.

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