A Life Well-Lived

Thinking is a walk
in shoes of lead
with nowhere to go.
The guy behind the counter
sprayed them out with glue.
Now taking them off pulls
at my soles. But go I must
and be thankful for the shoes.

A step,
a step,
the giant shoes patina,
black and matte,
shows every dent.
The land is covered in thorns
                  and if I sit, the sun
                  will beat me flat.
Also, something like a wort,
pale-grey sputtering
leaves turned in at the wrist.
Also, tiny, delicate,
flowers crying faintly
in the crucifying sun.

The shaman said to listen
for the flowers’ song,
but failed to mention
they would never shut up.
The ground looks flat,
but in places the wort grows deep.
I stuck a 40 pound boot in one
and strained my thigh. Strained
the other one pulling the first one out.

Having sunk to the level of flowers,
I could make out their lyrics:
Dumbass, we told you not to step there.
And me all waiting
for the land to speak.
Fall on my ass,
in thick gooey pollen,
bright yellow stain
that will either prove me worthy
or that I shouldn’t be trusted
with the boots of death.

I need to walk,
was told there’d be a map somewhere,
but direction isn’t what
I need only movement.
My big-booted feet
all pigeon-toed,
I can feel my right knee twisting
as I lift the left to step and end up
going completely the wrong way
to save my life.

                                                                    I can hear
the surf beyond what has become
a dune. Just as I realize
I’ll never make it,
the ground below of wilted wort,
of rotted wood, that does not hold,
                                                                    I land
amid the onions and old potatoes.
Oh Louise whatever did I do
to wind up here? As the slip
of sky above, now sunless,
darkens into night, I cease to think.


Yvonne Rathbone was taken out of Texas when they were very young and have since spent most of their time in Berkeley, CA where they write poetry and stories. Their poetry has appeared in 13th Moon.

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