Ode to My Shoes

After John Keats and Pablo Neruda

I’ve worn you hard, old friends,
black clogs made in Israel,
brought to me by Mary at What Next.
Your generous toebox
has camouflaged my bent feet
and postponed surgery.
Your perfect arch let me walk
the streets of peninsular towns
and coastal cities without a stumble.

But you are thoroughly ravished,
toes scraped and dulled
from daily brushes with bedrock.
The pattern on your heels
has thinned. I took you off
the shelf and stole your youth.
Your end seems near, a sacrifice
to limestone and slow time.

Of course I saw your silent beauty,
embroidered patterns on each shoe,
but failed to notice the right-foot
cornucopia of flowers does not mirror
the other’s leaf-fringed spray of threads.

The truth is that I love you
because you are not
precisely doubled,
as my feet are not,
and because you are
no longer beautiful.

After a long teaching career in the UW System at Green Bay and Oshkosh, Estella Lauter has turned to poetry to make sense of things. She retired to Door County from Appleton in 2004 and has published two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press. She is grateful for the lively community of poets here!