Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Whiskey Boots

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I couldn't buy sleep, so I ordered combat
boots, first in whiskey—a stupid color

if what you want is for your 6-year-
old not to need brain surgery—size 6—

a stupid size if what you need is for
them to fit. I need them

to fit. The neurosurgeon quips, She's got a size 10
brain in a size 9 skull.

I'd consider a courteous snicker
if my daughter didn't

need brain surgery. Whiskey
is the perfect color if what you have

is a singular capacity for swilling
embers. Or if what you need is reminding

that once home—children sleepily cooing
to starshimmer—serenity can be had

at the bottom of a slim-lipped glass.
But the boots weren't even whiskey.

I showed my friend, Kd, who
said they were some canyon

dust-shit—red, like nearly dried
blood, my throat after a tipple,

like my daughter's baby hair,
though lighter now, the color of

newly-minted pennies. I ask Kd
if I can live with whiskey

and whine, Can't I just have tailored
boots in camel—soft as brown butter and my

daughter's cheek pressed in the palm
of my nucleus when she nuzzles me

like a cheetah—and in the right fucking size?
I have nonpareil dancer's

feet. They rise excellently
high in relevé and point

like two ITC Galliard commas
just like my daughter's herniated

cerebellum points through her foramen
magnum. Boots aren't made for

feet like these. My mom says mine are
my grandfather's, blocky at the ball, short but too wide to fit

through the slender neck of a
boot—whiskey, canyon mud blood camel.  Though

fellow dancers once oohed
and ahhed at my impossibly high

arches, my easy turnout from the hip.
Have you ever seen the gore

of a dancer's feet undressed?
Boots are made for

something longer, sleeker, healthier,
like a pair of syrinxless spines,

mercurial and glowing, the fluid
gliding easily with each step,

upward through my penny-haired daughter's
tailored skull.


Allie is the managing editor of Bellingham Review and an MFA candidate at Western Washington University. She holds an MA in English literature and linguistics from Texas Tech University. Her work has been shortlisted for The Pinch Literary Awards and is forthcoming or has appeared in Bellingham Review and Dialogue.


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