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Telling Room Essay: LAPTI by Mary McColley
Mary McColley

A weekly feature this summer is the recorded writings of young Mainers (ages six through 18) through a collaboration with the Telling Room in Portland.

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LAPTI by Mary McColley Listen

LAPTI by Mary McColley


My mother has told me
the story

of the three pairs of shoes, lapti,

that hang on our wall.

Little things, woven from tree bark

and deft hands,
brought to a cold market square

in Russia. Light, firm,
meant to protect a child’s felt boots and numb toes,

yet made almost achingly delicate

by the years that lay between,
when the poor old man peddled his shoes

on the winter streets of Moscow.

Thin and amber, strips of bark.
My mother has told me

how he beamed, lined face happy,

when she
bought them,

life and streets and half a world away,

when she bought them then
and made an old man smile.


This is the final entry in that summer series. Special thanks to the Telling Room, and to all the young writers for sharing their work.


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