I’m woken by the footsteps that come running,
Sometimes barefoot, through night’s heavy dew.
The tracks don’t last, the crushed grass soon recovers;
No longer can I follow where they flew.
It’s not that every waking has this pattern.
Some tip-toe past the edges of my dreams,
Many more show no consideration
And clatter, clack and clomp, they rouse from sleep
My drowsy comprehension of the day.
Through practice I can recognize the footfall,
Each different pair of shoes reveals its soul:
The playful pumps of poetry twist meaning,
The heavy muddy boots of ill-formed writing
That editing will surely put to rights.
My clichéd carpet slippers’ best endeavours
A million times remind me what I know.
Flim-flam flip-flops flap at me with flummery
Distracting, entertaining – nothing deep.
Can’t catch the drift of trainers, far too swift.
Tread lightly on my dreams? I’ll give them that.
The down-at-heel and leaking ancient brogues
Come shuffling past, complaining, finding blame.
“What you again, old friend! What’s new?”
“Same-old.” The knotted laces say the same.
Some shoes I’ll wear a mile or even more,
For traveling through the day must be a joy.
If not, I’ll slip them off as soon as poss;
Those well-trod paths have little more to say.
When evening comes, the footfalls fade away,
Some shoes are neatly sorted, put to rest.
The others get abandoned, for recycling,
No longer fit for journeys, nor for dreams.
If shoes showed promise then I’ll put them out
For cleaning, in that spot outside my mind.
For in that time some kind of shoe-care magic
Imbues the shoes with stories of the night.
Today I found a new pair brightly waiting,
Glinting in the growing morning light.
“Whose shoes are these?” I wondered, feeling puzzled.
“Why yours, of course. A gift for your next trip.”
I put them on and found my feet enlivened,
My being grabbed and danced round the room
My mind was spinning words like sparkling diamonds
My crazy footsteps shining in the sun.
© 2015 Peter Young
- The photograph is of “The Departed’ by Sorsha Galvin, currently on display in the Long Gallery of Croome Court in Worcestershire on the theme: One Leg Supporting the Body, the Other Slightly Bent.