And the semi-brogues, serrated leather with punched holes,
so good that they became mildewed
from storing up for ever for best wear.
Leather soles and uppers, sometimes stuffed with papers
to block the split that broke beneath the ball.
From these a rancid smell, not of tobacco now,
but something private, exhaled through smothered pores.
There must have been a dozen shoes in all
at the bottom of the wardrobe holding suits.
Until that night with him away
our mother bringing washing from the line
saw a rat that was a hedgehog
and leaning from our bedroom window,
trying to kill the nightmare menace,
cast those shoes with awful panic stricken joy;
till they were all gone flying in the dark,
leaving nothing in their wake but lifelong horror
of an unseen threat that follows to this day.