And the little one carries a blade. The barb
of too-long pinkie nail leaves blood-sludge on tights
like rust on a car; the one closest suffers the wound.
What shall the other toes make of this disaster?
They'll talk of it afterwards like an incident at a party,
follow everything with gate – nailgate, shoegate O
what of these shoes! We have been honed
to torpedoes in these tight-alley stilettos!
The toes didn't choose this: to be close as hillbillies,
decremented like panpipes. They are worn girls
in a munitions factory, spent commuters
dangling on a subway train straining to hear
someone else's headphone music. The orchestra
of avenue thunders through stocking and sole.
The toes wonder if they might be in hell –
the digits above are clearly in heaven;
free range, bohemian, weaving the air to stir
a band into swelling. Swipe off those socks –
the toes reaction is the bald stare of dogs
when a van door is heaved open. If she could,
Big Toe would do all the talking. Mother Superior –
she advocates the rectitude of their cupboard dark;
caseiculture, claustral lodgings! The others
are unconvinced. Word on the street:
they're soon to be dunked into basins of flesh-eating fish.
Louise Peterkin is a poet from Edinburgh. In 2016 she was a recipient of a New Writers Award from the Scottish Book Trust in the poetry category. She is the co-editor, along with Rob A. Mackenzie, of Spark: Poetry and Art inspired by the Novels of Muriel Spark (Blue Diode Press, 2018). She is an assistant poetry editor for The Interpreter's House. Her poems have appeared in many publications, including The Dark Horse, The Glasgow Review of Books, Magma and The North, and her first collection of poetry, The Night Jar, is soon to be published by Salt.