The dumbest thing your well-meaning father
ever told his impressionable son is
“You can tell everything you need to know
about a man by the way he keeps his shoes.”
If you looked at mine, they’d be
seven different shades of brown
from coffee spills and missed curbs,
with what’s left of frayed laces tied
at the most convenient eyelet
I could fit them through, all in a sloppy half-bow.
Your father would say they belong to
someone who’s been coming apart for years.
And I’d agree with him on that count.
I have been coming apart for years.
I’m one of the slowly birthing butterflies.
There are a lot of us out here dying,
glacially to things and to our old selves
every day hoping one day to fly,
and when our shoes fall apart and become unnecessary,
we’ll be grateful that we’ve finally arrived.
So if I should die before I ever fly,
don’t you dare lay me out in new shoes.
Don’t even think of polishing my old ones –
leave the coffee stains right where they are.
Let your father think what he wants of me.
It’s fine. Good men can be wrong about a lot of things.
I’ll come to him afterwards in a dream
he’s free to forget or chalk up to bad Chinese
whispering to his soul that
what really matters is
the walking that you do –
never the shoe.