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My Father’s Shoes


My mother asked us to find her relatives.

We started in the cemetery.

It was the biggest we had ever seen.

My father’s shoes hurt him,


though he didn’t say until it was too late.

It was a foolish thing

to go to a cemetery

but it reminded us of familiar ground.


We felt at home there

among the trees and stone

though we knew no one.

They were light shoes


– thin-soled, tan leather –

and more suited to the city

than to the endless paths we tracked

among the dead.


And what if we had found them?

They couldn’t have opened their arms to us,

welcomed us with their best wine,

their best coffee.


They couldn’t have told us stories

of how they’d come to be so far

from their birthplace.

They couldn’t have bathed my father’s tender feet.



Ardea cinerea


A heron stands among the reeds

at the edge of the lake.

It will stand for hours

casting its eye across the water.


Fish swim the waters

not knowing their fate

below this shadowing.


In the Otherworld

the heron’s task is to guard

the sacrifices made to kings

and guide the dead to the Afterlife.


Far away in the city an old man

sits on a park bench.

He will sit for hours

willing a heron to come to him.


The heron raises its wings

and lifts its weight

into the light of air.

The reeds barely flutter.

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