Shoe you can't remove,
stiff cast of Jurassic
tendons and bone. Cloven,

so close to coven, a secret
oath of snort and bristle.
And ungulate, like

undulate, wave upon
wave of stampeding beasts,
rapture of dust and heave.

You guffaw across the roof
of our mouths, the palate
shielding tissue pink

and tender as a heart.
Our protection is learned.
We start young, blowing

on soup, testing it with our
tongues, hardening ourselves
so we don’t get burned.