By Janet Banks
Laces splayed, limp, plead for attention, hanging out an open box
too small for my Merrell, 7.5, Performance Footwear.
Left shoe steps on right, posing like a shy girl might. Made
in China. Recruited in Taos, second generation pair, identical to the
first. Housed thoughtlessly now in a box too small, nowhere to go,
idle after miles of trail; you deserve better.
The closet, no bulb, no switch only the scent of cedar
to scare off city moths. Out exploring beyond Boston’s city sidewalks
is where we belong. A shoe in each hand at the window, the sun
warms my face. The label reads Olive, but no green here, gray
as a foggy morning with soft blue trim. Mesh designed to cool in
summer welcomes rain in every season.
Black treads trap tiny, embedded stones likely claimed in Maine,
a birthday wish in 2019, hiking Acadia on my seventy-fifth, granted.
Wet, slippery rocks meant going slow, no problem, my footing
secure. Fingernails dislodge the hard nuggets, precious souvenirs
of a simpler time. New Hampshire’s rocks and roots beckoned next,
but 2020 plans scuttled. Safer at home, the covid-19 mantra. We wait.
When, where will we find a new trail, another mountain,
or return to walk among Joshua trees, or with the great spirits
of Monument Valley, filling our socks with red velvet sand?
Surely, we will honor the mighty saguaros again in a year or two.
Never again will I slip-slide in tennis shoes down a steep grade,
a sprain, a break, a heartbeat away. With you, I’m ready to go.
Safety, now an obsession. Not on the trail but masked amid aisles of cereal.
Soft wool socks comfort my soles. The toe-bed wide, comfortable, heels raised,
cushioned. Tied in, my feet, secure, we walk through wet, fallen leaves, a neighbor
waves from a distance, joggers pass, dogs, leashed, strain to mark their territory.
No cairns to follow; now streetlights to obey. Walking tall, proud, quickening the pace
before it is back in the box for you, behind lock and key for me.