Poems - God Bless You, The Cobbler Said (1071 words)

The cobbler's voice rings out
above the hum of equipment
in his little shop --

God Bless You!
God Bless You!
God Bless You All!

As his blessings fill our ears,
the smell of well-polished leather
fills our noses.

God bless you, beautiful mother.
God bless you beautiful children.
God bless you, beautiful family.
Come in! Come in! Yes! Yes!
God bless you; God bless you all!!

He sings his song of blessings
as he hands Mother the shoes
that have been repaired, polished,
and placed in a wrinkled paper bag.

How much do I owe you? Mother asks,
her large brown eyes meeting his dancing,
blessing singing smile.

God Bless you, Mother.
The children grow and eat much.
I grow old and eat little.
Pay me what you can.
God Bless you. God Bless you.

Mother digs into her purse
and removes some bills.
Will this be right?

In God's eyes it is right!
Thank you. Thank you.

Beneath wild gray and black eyebrows
his dark eyes sparkle

What does that sign say? I ask,
pointing at the little sign tacked to the counter.

Seven in one blow, Mother reads in a whisper.

As we leave the shop I ask,
Why does he always say God Bless you?

He's crazy, Mother answers simply
and shakes her head sadly, then adds,
He is a very good cobbler.

I ponder Mother's answer.
Is he crazy?
Are crazy people always so cheerful?
Why does Mother say this happy person is crazy?
Is she right?

On our next visit,
among the songs of God Bless You
is another sign beside the first.

Mother, what does the sign say?
I ask pointing.

Seven more in one blow, she reads.

The Cobbler beams.

I wonder seven more what? It makes no sense.
Perhaps Mother is correct. Perhaps he is crazy.
The Cobbler reminds me of a child at play.
As I turn my face away from Mother, I smile.
I know she doesn't think being crazy
is anything to smile about.

That night in bed, I think,
Perhaps he drove seven nails
into the sole of a shoe
with one blow of his hammer.
Yes, that must be it.

Or did he blow out seven candles
on his birthday cake?
That makes no sense.
He is not seven and,
anyway, seven is not a lot of candles to blow out.

Then I think that perhaps he said
God Bless You seven times with one breath?
I test this to see how many times I can say
God Bless You with one breath.
I run out of air entirely after saying it 50 times.
Wow! Saying God Bless You 50 times
in one breath seems quite impossible.
So I test it again.
Again, I say God Bless You 50 more times
before gasping for air.

The next time we take shoes to the cobbler,
his shop is closed.
On the door hangs a sign:
Gone to Kill BLESS the Dragon.

What does the sign say? I ask.

The shop is closed, Mother answers.

But what does the sign say? I ask again.

It says the cobbler has gone to Kill or to Bless the Dragon.

Why would he do that? I ask.

Mother looks at me and I know she is gathering many thoughts.
Then she begins:
Many people know the story of the Tailor
who boasted that he killed Seven With One Blow.
They thought he meant seven giants.
In fact he meant seven flies that had landed on the jam on his toast.
I suppose when they saw the Cobbler's sign,
and it said seven in one blow,
they thought he'd killed seven dragons or seven giants,
so the king sent him off to kill the dragon.

But what if he meant that he'd pounded seven nails
into the sole of a shoe in one blow,
or that he'd blown out seven candles in one blow,
or said God Bless You seven times in one breath,
which is very easy to do. I did it fifty times.

I don't know, Mother says softly,
and she looks at the ground.
I see that she is frightened for the cobbler.

The next day we return to the cobbler's shop
not knowing what to expect.
It is open and the cobbler greets us
with his usual song of blessings.
Before Mother give him our shoes,
I speak in my loud, outside voice
so he hears me over the machines and his blessings:
Did you kill the dragon or bless him?

Oh, blessed him of course.
I can't kill one of God's creatures,
not even an ant or a fly
that shares my toast and jam with me.

Will your blessing stop the dragon
from eating our cows, goats and sheep? I ask.

Yes, I think so. We will have to see.

What happened when you met the dragon?
Was it very scary?

Very scary indeed!
But I wrapped myself in the spirit of blessings
before I arrived at his cave beneath the volcano.

And then what happened? I ask.

Then I said, Good morning fine dragon
that God has made with wings of gold
and teeth of ivory and fire hot as the sun.

And then what happened? I ask.

The dragon came to the mouth of his cave and said,
Who speaks to me with such fine poetry?

And I said, A creature of God, like you.

And what did the dragon say? I asked.
He didn't say anything.
He placed his head on my shoulder
and let out and enormous sad sigh.
Then he let me rub his velvet soft ears
like he was a giant dog.

What else happened?

We looked into each other's eyes.
I think the dragon saw in my eyes
that I would never hurt him, and felt safe.
Then, in each other's eyes,
we saw the exact same thing.

What same thing? I ask.

The same thing you and I see
when we look into each other's eyes,
laughed the cobbler.
And then he said,
God bless you my young and beautiful friend.
God Bless You and your dear mother,
and God bless our new friend, the dragon.

As we walk out, I see a sign on the door.

What does it say? I ask Mother.

She whispers as she reads:
Hear! Hear!
Have no fear
the dragon is blessed
the dragon is blessed
and so is everyone who enters here!
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