Bean Mocs

After Mom passed on November 4, my father told me I could take her shoes.  There was a lot to take--from new white Keds to heeled leather boots to slippers--and I took them, taking some comfort in holding her things and imagining her presence.  It took a day, but I tried on all her shoes, and they fit.  I also discovered that her shoes have the same kind of wear as mine.  It was something.

The footbed of your mocs
Molded over time to
The exact shape
Of your solid, sure feet.

These shoes are old, Mom.
The soles are worn to the stitches.
The leather is dull
After years and years
Of your wearing them
In the garden.

They are mine now,
My inheritance:
Shoes for work
Shoes worn from work
Shoes that stand the test of time.

I slide them on:
The footbeds cradles
My solid, square feet.
I take a few steps
And feel the perfect fit
In your shoes, Mom.

I swear I walk faster in these,
Zooming the way you always did
To do all the living you could
In a day
In the garden.

I condition the leather,
Massaging this oily compound
Into cowhide a decade old,
Returning to them
Softness.

I smell the earth in this oil,
And I am in your garden again,
Pruning roses, pulling weeds,
Trimming grasses,
Watering hydrangea
And all the little plants I brought to you.

You found room for everything.

I think of you standing alone
At your bedroom window
Watching me work in your garden
And sometimes calling out a funny word
Or a bit of cheeky advice.
What were you thinking about
Your garden, your daughter, yourself
As you stood tethered to your oxygen machine
At a safe remove from the sun
But so very far from what you loved?

I polish the leather
Until it is darker and shinier
Than Bean ever intended.

I will wear them
And remember you
In your garden.

I will try to fill your shoes.



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