Gypsy Blood by Wesley Scott McMasters

Gypsy Blood
            for my father
I wear shoes that are worn out
            soles worn thin
            leather cracked
            creases clear
           sometimes even a gap through which
            I can feel rain or snow
I wear shoes that I don’t wash or shine
            I let them soak in the shit in the city streets
            feel the ocean water
            or the Gulf of Mexico
                        a place my father dreams about
                        even when he is there
I dig these shoes out from the back of my closet
            like pulling bones from a grave
            blowing the dust off
            stepping in piss
            in a corner of Venice
            where as a kid
I always dreamed of going
            finally walking those streets
            wearing jeans that made me
look like my gypsy ancestors
the Romani who still live
outside of the city
            a purple button down
            blazer bleached from Italian sun
            and shoes
            that will never forget why
            the soles are worn thin
            and the leather
            is cracked
            or the moment when she kissed me
for the first time
            in ten years
            or ten days
            or the moment when I hugged my father
            for the first time
            in ten years
            or ten days
            maybe the first time I ever saw him cry
            and definitely the first time
            I cried with him
            as I watched my grandfather’s body
            weak and frail
            carried out to be burned
                        to be made into dust
            my father told me
during a call to him
from a diner
in Poughkeepsie
that we have gypsy blood
            like my grandfather
            and my great grandfather
maybe this is why
my leather lasts
soaked in blood
my blood
my father’s blood
gypsy blood
Wesley Scott McMasters is a poet and professor in the eastern part of Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains, where he lives with his dog, Poet (who came with the name, he swears).

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