stoking the embers

the man comes on horseback and muscle, glinting.
he brings the shoe, crystallized         shoves me into it

and there’s blood in the shoe.     I am the bride-to-be
—girl burnt at the tips, my house dress with cinders
broom wicker, wash rag and basin.       much too dirty

and kept out of sight       my hours always gowned, secret
always mopping circles in the cellar room  the fire pit—my friend.

this shoe is too tight, not right     blood gathers
in the shoe and the man swept me up   the hot coals whimper
                                       glass melted against me, a brightness.