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                               BUTTERFLY BOOTS

                                                                              J. Willson & B. A. Pierce  

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She sat on the curb

                               at years of six

in front of her house

                              waiting for daddy

                                to come home

                                   from work

                                                       in the oilfields

 

It had rained that afternoon

                                        an occurrence

                                             rare

                                                     in deep South Texas

where the red sand drifted

                                          to the tops of fence posts

during the worst of droughts

 

She sat on the curb

                            bare feet in water

                                  rushing

                                              down

                                                      the edge

                                                         of the street

 

There were bold initials in the curb

                                                 mother

                                                  said

                                                        they were built

                                                         in the 1930's

during the Great Depression

                                   when

                           the government tried

 

                                                       to provide jobs

Odd

      she thought

        grown men

                       had once been

                                            putting in concrete curbs

                                                              just

                                             to have something to do

She knew nothing

                        about bread lines

                    men riding railroad cars

                                                      from town to town

                                                            searching

only to be told

                     "Don't stop here!"

                                            "No jobs here!"

                                                               "Keep riding!"

But mother knew

   "Daddy worked all day for a quarter and was glad to get it"

                              she was often told

 

Daddy had a good job now

                                    working

                               for an oil company

                                                        the Great Depression

                                                                   long over

 

Oh

    she loved her daddy dearly

                                           and was waiting for him to come home

to show him the hail

                             that had fallen

                                                  as big as baseballs

Her big brother out in the yard

                                            was picking them up

                                                  hitting them

                                                                    across the street

                                                                    to a neighbor boy

Whack went the bat

                              Whack!

                                        Whack!

                                                  Whack!

 

Just then

             Daddy arrived

                                 darkly Texas browned

                                                                  a strong man

                                                                 a giant to her

wearing the most beautiful pair of boots

                                              yellow boots

a big butterfly

                    outlined

                                in black

                            on each boot

                                              colored dots

                                             in the middle

                                                                 of the wings

 

Yellow was her favorite color

                                          she loved butterflies

She thought her daddy's boots magnificent

                                           too young to know

most would have thought them gaudy

                                             perhaps even

                                                                tacky

They belonged to Daddy

                                   they were perfect

                                                            just as he

Probably every man in South Texas

                                                   owned

                                             at least one pair

                                       of 'Sunday go to meeting'

                                                   boots

 

But Daddy was the only perfect man in town

                           the only one with gloriously

                                         perfect

                               yellow butterfly boots

 

He always changed into town clothes when coming home

leaving his oilfield clothes

                                    heavy steel-toed boots

                                              hard hat

                                                           in the little shed

that housed a shower and changing room

                                                           out on the lease

Daddy always took a shower

                                         put on

                                                   town clothes

                                                  butterfly boots

and a cowboy hat

                          He wasn't a cowboy

                                                      but on him

                                                  at a rakish angle

                                                                       it fit

 

Daddy scooped her up in big arms

                                              "How's my 'favorite girl' today?"

"Oh Daddy!"

                giggling

                           "Put me down!"

                                                "Put me down!"

"Not until you give me some sugar!"

                                    rubbing his rough face across her soft skin

She struggled and kicked

                                    "Daddy!"

                                              "Daddy!"

                                                        "Your mustache tickles!"

He laughed

                and put her down

                                         but not until he had twirled her

                                          around in the air a few times

She squealed with delight

 

Then Daddy looked at her giant hailstones

                                                       pitched a few to his son

turned around

                    winked at his youngest daughter

             and walked into the house to greet Mother

 

 

The last things the young girl saw

                                                    as he walked into the house

were his cowboy hat

                              tilted

                                        at a rakish angle

and his magnificent

                             majestic

                                           glorious

                                                         yellow

                                                     butterfly boots

 

Every bit as dashing as Clark Gable

                                                   for the rest of her life

                                                            no man

                                                ever quite filled those boots

 

     The day he died

                            years later

she opened his closet and saw

                                          the

                                        yellow

                                    butterfly boots

 

She cried her heart out

                                 for the man

who had always worked so hard

                                for his family

                                                   had laughed

                                                                     played

and always asked

                         for some sugar

                                              from his 'favorite girl'