Song of a Shoe

© Eric Jelfs

published in ANVIL Magazine, March 1998
My life began dark, deep down underground,
As crude iron ore torn out from the earth;
Then flung into the smelter's flaming hell
And poured as a bar was my violent birth.

Cut down to size and wrought into a curve,
Forged in red heat, half-drowned in cold water,
Hammered and pounded and punched thro' with holes,
A childhood nightmare just short of slaughter.

My next career segment was spent in a box
In which I was packed with ninety-nine clones;
All surrounded by silence and blackness,Laid close together, unmoving as stones.

At last came an ending to this confinement,
The box was torn open; sunlight streamed in.
The sound was heard of mens' cheerful voices.
I was thrown through the air; aimed at a pin.

Iron struck against iron; I fell to the sand,
Vertical shaft in my crescent embrace.
Comrades fell near, but not near so nobly,
He who'd thrown me had a smile on his face.

Several more hours were passed in this manner
As money changed hands with joy and despair,
Then back to the box in quiet and darkness
When evening ended this sporting affair.

More dust was gathered; time slowly passed by
When, suddenly grasped by hands rough and strong,
My shape compared to the hoof of a horse,
At last came the chance awaited so long.

Once more to the forge, then touched to the hoof,
Numb but alive, the bond sealed by the smoke.
Hammered in place and with nails neatly clenched,
Between smith and horse at last with my folk.

Plains, hills, and mountains; valleys and washes;
Trails steep and rugged were all my domain.
Rocks, stones and sand; sometimes grassy prairies,
Six weeks of glory in sunshine and rain.

I had pride in the job I'd been made for,
My face polished smooth and kept shining bright.
A couple of nails began to work loose,
With sadness I knew the end was in sight.

Work went on for just seven days longer,
Hanging on grimly, still destined to fail.
I fell from the hoof and clinked on the gravel,
Cast aside, lost at the edge of the trail.

I laid in this place for fifty years more,
My useful life ended, turning to rust.
I oxidized slowly; metal to powder,
My very last thought was, "Dust unto dust."

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