She spent half of her life wearing the same pair of shoes.
When she first saw them, they were dazzling… full of promise (and promises!) Tightly laced and polished, glistening like diamonds upon her feet.
They were immediately comfortable, and comforting.
At first, she walked through dark night forests and midnight-winding streets; breaking them in, smiling at the melody of new leather creaking in harmony with the violin-sawing of cricket wings, with the ruffling of the night owls feathers.
She dared to share her dreams, and danced in her new shoes with abandon and trust and hope.
The shoes spoke to her of wondrous things to come… making promises shoes should not make but new love demands –
of forever cradling her feet against sharpened stones; of warming her toes through winter’s storms; of lifting her heals in rapturous dance…
She fell in love with these shoes, flooded with dreams of where they might carry her. Each morning, she slipped them on with tenderness and love; each night, un-laced, she fell asleep clutching them to her breast…
…whispering sweet hallelujahs for all the miles they had shared, and would in all their ahead days walk, promising – until death do us part!
She loved her shoes with complete abandon and imagined they would always be as comfortable as the day she first placed them upon her trusting feet-
each day praying these shoes would always love her in return; with tenderness, truth, and above all else, never hurting her.
But the years went by, and those beautiful shoes began to wear. With time, they lost their gloss, and the leather cracked and hardened. She noticed, one morning, a tiny droplet of blood upon her sock; Later, a small cut upon her heel, a new pain within her heart.
Yet still, devoted, she continued to wear them though at night she began setting them beside her bed.
In the final year, she wept looking at these shoes; they were now ugly shoes, painful shoes.
“These shoes,” she tearfully whispered, “will never carry me to where I need to go.”
She could tell in other’s eyes that they
were glad these were her shoes and not theirs. They never talked about her shoes.
They looked away in embarrassed empathy. To learn how awful her shoes were might make them
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
She began, for the first time, to hate her shoes; with guilt at first, then with an increasing passion until one day an awareness swept through her thoughts:
“I deserve a better pair of shoes.”
She looked around, and for the first time understood that she was not the only one who wore those shoes.
“There are many pairs in this world,” she thought. I can either learn how to walk in them, timidly, so they don’t hurt quite as much…
“…or I can throw them away.”
And she began to plan. “No woman deserves to wear these shoes,” she cried. So for the final few months, she gathered her courage …..to throw them away.
Ironically, it was these shoes that had made her a stronger woman. These shoes had given her the strength to face anything.
They helped make her who she now was.
One day, she slipped them on a final time feeling the worn leather against her savaged foot; then, flooded with the intensity of love one can only feel knowing love is forever lost…she kissed the shoe goodbye.
When the time was right, she took her shoes to a secluded ravine kissed them, and tossed them…like an old pair of shoes, into an abyss.
The shoes lay there broken, tattered, worn and useless. The shoes could not speak of the love they held for the woman For its tongue was torn. Left to decay with nothing but the scent of the woman’s tender hands scenting its laces, slowly fading.
As soon as the shoes were disposed of she went barefoot into tomorrow, pain-free and dancing and singing:
“I will forever walk the bare feet of a woman who has lost her shoes!”
But in exactly one year, she slipped on another pair, happy and in love again, dancing and laughing once more...
hoping against hope, forgetting old shoes, willing with all her heart for this shiny new pair to carry her home.
How do you keep the wind upon your face?
Like love, it lightly kisses your cheek,
and is swept away.
She led me into a field covered with green,
where a handful of poppies
had already started blooming
along the edge of the split log fence
Filaree and locoweed were also blooming,
and some other small flowers.
Here, she lay me down in the tall grass
gently pressing me to the earth
with the palms of her delicate hands
until I lay prone looking up
into the blue softness of her eyes.
Slowly, she knelt beside me,
tracing her long, slender fingers
along my cheek; her nails lightly grazing
the contours of my face.
Her hand turned; the soft pads of her fingertips
pressed tenderly against my lips.
I looked upward to the bright sunlight
filtering through the strands of her silken hair,
blinded by the intensity of the brightness;
I lost my vision of her in rippled pools
of tears flooding my eyes between the bright light,
the overwhelming beauty of it all.
I felt the wetness of her own tears
fall upon my upturned face mingling with my own,
as she quietly whispered:
“I no longer love you.”
She rises and walks away
as I lie there, the ground growing cold.
In the sky above, two swallows fly by
wingtip to wingtip.
Even these simple, feathered creatures
have out loved me.
It’s easy to say goodbye – to meet again is hard.
Love gone like rose petals fallen on flowing waters
My thoughts of her are like these flowing waters,
Meandering toward the open sea on their hopeless journey.
In time, washed away over a burnt orange horizon.
My hope, too!
The north wind blows; here on the ocean it’s cold.
My home is at the bend of a crumbling, salt-soaked pier.
I watch a lone white sail at heavens’ end;
Like a waking dream, quickly gone – who can I ask where?
Darkness falls beside the endless sea.
We had often walked upon warmer, infinite sands
Pressing our bare heels into the foaming wetness.
But one set of footprints are swept away too quickly
Swallowed by the receding tides of love.
This cold empty beach was never what I wished;
These scattered empty shells speak of inevitable ends.
The beauty of the ocean’s edge declines more year by year.
As the sun goes down, a chilling wind appears
Whipping the sands, stinging my face…a reminder
That with beauty comes inevitable pain –
To hear seagulls cry, or see pelicans on the fly
Makes me sorrow even more.
I lack the courage for this day.
Wrapping solitude around me like a mother’s arms
I turn for home – or what I now call home –
An empty room, a quiet room, an empty bed, a quiet bed;
My refuge from the darkness and the light.
Myself, I think I’ve found a place that suits me..
I have made my home amidst this mighty shore,
Yet I can no longer hear the crashing of the ocean swells.
Outside my window, all the butterflies are white,
A pair flitter over the dying garden’s grass.
They are damaging my heart!
Two tears trace two lines down my face,
I send them to the ocean’s beaten coast.
One full year now separates the loving and the unloving;
I have not often thought of her, but neither can I forget.
We would not recognize each other even if we met again,
My face is covered with sand, my temples glazed with ocean foam.
In deepest night, a sudden dream returns me to her arms,
We look at each other without a word, a thousand tears now flow.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning.
My muse lifts me from my sickly state,
And smiling, asks me to write a poem
I try to write the pain away, but cannot find the words.
Tonight, the ocean’s wind enters through the window,
The torn gauze curtain starts to flutter and fly.
I turn slowly in my bed, looking up at the bright moon,
And send my prayers a thousand miles in its light.
In the bitter waves of loss,
Thrashed and tossed about,
By the sullen winds of life that blow,
From the desolate shores of doubt,
Where the anchors of love once cast
In search of eternal purchase
Now dragging useless in sorrow’s gale.
I am quietly holding fast, holding alone
To the things that cannot fail.
That’s what I seek (although my heart knows full well)
The truth is, I may never be able to know for sure why.
But I do know that there is no single
“Should have done” or “could have done”
Or “did” or “didn’t do”
That would have changed that why.
All that love could do was left undone.
This shipwreck, my castaway life,
This endless frothing of cold, death-capped waves
Was due to my taking my eyes off the horizon
Where our dreams were setting with the dying sun.