White canvas slip-ons with a blue line
like the trim on a yacht; such plain comfort
for $5.99 that today someone said,
"Where are your shoes?" thinking they were my socks.
But I feel luxurious, tropical, Panamanian,
and so relaxed that there are palm trees, mangoes,
pink flamingoes every step I take in this flat
mid-western American town. To match my mock
elegance I wear my baggiest blue jeans,
four inches too large in the waist, my blousiest shirt
unbuttoned half way, and a woman I hardly know
stops me on the street and says, "You're so thin,
have you been ill?" But to me, this is the attire
of a man with plenty of time to get from one place
to another, time to sip an iced coffee, to browse
for hours the aisles of the bookstore and buy
nothing, to saunter the baked white sidewalks,
flat footed, tanned, not glossy with sweat. These
white shoes conjure up the old country: the piazzas,
the chiming of the steeple bells, the rolled up
sleeves of unshaven men playing bocce
in the cool shadow of the church, rough hands
waving black cigars, juice glasses of red wine,
the fig trees' black shade.
I jingle a pocketful of change to the tempo
of some tune I've made up. But these cheap shoes
have their own tune, quiet
as their soft rubber soles, they move
in only one direction: to their own demise.
The grid of the soles smoothes, the white
of the canvas dulls, the strength of the stitch collapses.
Months away, with a light snow falling,
I'll slip them on to take out the trash.
Seido Ray Ronci, The Skeleton of the Crow, Ausable Press, 2008.