shoe shine, Sumatra

‘hey mister,
you want I shine your shoes?’
laughter shines in his eyes

our rubber thongs
are no use to a shiner of shoes
but he stays to chat—one day
he'll be rich, have a bike, a house
a pretty wife

‘hey mum,
you want we have photo
for your memories?’
he likes us very much
he is our friend

we enjoy the game—
his eyes are so big,
so soulful,
his skin so brown, so smooth,
his smile so wide his teeth
so white—

but he must go
find shoes to shine
earn rupiah
for his good life
we shake his hand

give him some rupiah
for his good life—
he treats us to one last
beautiful smile
and is gone

Elizabeth Nicholls (Western Australia)

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