Friday, March 14, 2008

worn boots: my life

This is about my shoes. How will I ever get my aging boots resoled, a comrade asked this morning over poached eggs and bacon, when I wear them every day? I wear no other shoes. I'm holding out on giving them over, particularly since some poets suggest shoes are like the mortal coil itself. They are skins.

You may be fine just going and buying new Adidas. But understand: abandoning my worn, beaten, bent old boots now seems unnatural to me. They have lasted this last decade along with me. It would be like shipping off my toes, my fingers, my nose for a touch-up. You just live with what you have as it endures.

Mr. Simic, that great and reliable poet laureate, instructs us thus:

My Shoes

Shoes, secret face of my inner life:
Two gaping toothless mouths,
Two partly decomposed animal skins
Smelling of mice nests.

My brother and sister who died at birth
Continuing their existence in you,
Guiding my life
Toward their incomprehensible innocence.

What use are books to me
When in you it is possible to read
The Gospel of my life on earth
And still beyond, of things to come?

I want to proclaim the religion
I have devised for your perfect humility
And the strange church I am building
With you as the altar.

Ascetic and maternal, you endure:
Kin to oxen, to Saints, to condemned men,
With your mute patience, forming
The only true likeness of myself.