Wet leather shoes

Wet leather shoes

you have to walk for a while
after passing a sunset without looking up
after a year of unseen rainbows
and no sunrises at all.

you have to walk for a while
with your impossible grief
so that mercy can speak to you
and give you something that still has to be earned

you have to have worn down a pair of soles
until the rubber tears off like velvet flesh
and your toecaps are polished wet by the grass

you have to have sped
past a thousand roadside corn fields
a hundred pastoral views
checked into ten hotels
without remembering the luxury of it all
and then have had love slip behind your defences.

when you’ve suffered enough
and find that life is still holding you
nothing will be boring to you,
a broken snail will awaken your compassion
the skin of a peach will lie like a quilt in your hand;
picking up someone’s fallen groceries
will be your luck.

A deer that bounds up
from where it slept in the folded wheat,
(surprising you and itself
leaping and away)
even before you can lift your camera
will baptize you in quiet awe.

Come through the door
trailing the smell of evening rain and your
unlonely melancholy
sit with a damp face
on the lowest step
pull the wet laces out of every eyelet
dry the pair with their open throats
on tomorrow’s warm rock;
you’re home.

© R. Lengelle, 2012, published in “White”

“I read Wet leather shoes. A number of times. It’s stunning. It does what I believe poetry is supposed to do, but not much poetry actually does.” Barbara Sher, author of Wishcraft: How to get what you really want, I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It, and other bestselling books.