This week’s poem, by Abbie Kiefer, has a title that acts as a terrifically straight-ahead set-up to a story: “My Friend Tells Me About the Last Day at the Bass Shoe Factory.” What proceeds is a raucous and evocative anecdote of an adventure on closing day of the factory. I love the vivid detail and careening movement of this poem, and the breathtaking double edge of its final line.

Abbie Kiefer grew up in Maine and now lives in New Hampshire. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Ninth Letter, Ploughshares, and other places.

My Friend Tells Me About the Last Day at the Bass Shoe Factory
By Abbie Kiefer

The warehouse echoed. Just the crew
and the forklift and two pallets of tasseled oxblood
loafers. So after lunch she returned
with skates. Laced the cracked leatherette,

took off on a tear —
wheels clacking like a print press,
legs pumping like pugilists,
hair streaming like a soda fountain, like a revival tent

in a tornado. Then she started whooping
and the foreman
who would have sooner gone naked
than in shoes with tassels

howled at her to have some respect. Stunned,
she shot past the pallets and pitched into a shelf —
pitiless as a privy, solid as a Grange hall.
She didn’t cry,

just sunk like a schooner,
and phoned up to her uncle, third floor in the shop.
He had boots on his bench. When the last seam
was knotted, he drove her

to the hospital. Waited in the truck while a doc cinched
the wound. That’ll scar like a circus train he said
when he saw. Artless stitches terse as telegrams.
Someone he said ought to take that guy’s needle.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. DEEP WATER: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “My Friend Tells Me About the Last Day at the Bass Shoe Factory,” copyright 2022 by Abbie Kiefer, appears by permission of the author.

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