Our Shoes by Sandra Kohler

Our Shoes

           for Sue Tollefson

It’s just as you’re leaving that I notice it:
you and I are wearing the same pair of
shoes: comfortable, sensible, yet elegant in
a pared-down way. You’re gathering yourself
and the equipment to which you’re tethered:
a breathing tube, oxygen tank, a supply of
extra tanks because you can’t be without
their aid for a minute, a moment. Looking
down as we embrace, I notice our shoes,
we look at them together and laugh.

You and I are both old women, we each
know we’re mortal, dying animals, but
your death has been predicted, mine has
not. Your husband will almostly certainly
outlive you; I will almost certainly outlive
mine. An accident, the unforeseen, could
alter this, you and I each know this and
yet also know what is most likely. How
do we each manage this knowledge?

You are seizing your life, friendships,
connections, with passionate intensity,
determined to live as fully as you may.
I set myself a similar task, but constantly
fail at it, wasting this precious essence
in a spill of anxious conjecture, useless
imaginings. I would like you to teach
me how to walk in these shoes we’re
wearing, dear friend, how to inhabit
my uncertain life with your assurance.


Sandra Kohler is a septuagenarian; a wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother; a lover of Shakespeare and Marilynne Robinson who’s just begun the project of reading Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. She reads mysteries and crossword puzzles, follows the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Red Sox, loves the music of Mahler, Sibelius and Dvorak. She is a sometime gardener and teacher, she is, above all, a poet.

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