Shoe Shine
by Clarence Wolfshohl

“I like a man with well shined
shoes,” she said.
Well, actually,
she said, “It’s good to see a poet
with shined shoes,” but we
read between the lines,
and I was thinking of years
ago when another woman, a girl,
remarked upon my shined shoes.

I was just starting to jot
lines and wrote of the sunset
blazing across the Grand Canyon
or the deep dark of redwood
forests although neither had I seen.

That girl was five years too early
for Haight-Asbury, a lacey length
of willow with short blond hair
and freckles across her nose,
an easy way of sitting and looking
at you, and one day I stood
on a top step; she sat
on the second step, looked
at my shoes, wrapped her arms
around my knees, and said,

“I love a man with well shined
shoes.” Well, actually, she said,
“My father said I could judge a man
by the shine on his shoes.” Her eyes
said more, but I thought of a blazing
Grand Canyon sunset and dark redwoods,
and this is the first time in fifty
years I thought to write about
that lacey flower child.

This fellow poet—neither
willowy or lacey, grown mature
and perhaps oaken with life—
makes me recall my prototype
hippie who admired polished shoes,
and I wonder if she means more
than the aesthetics of footwear,
if I am to think of sunsets
and moist darknesses, or
if she has a closet full
of scuffed loafers.

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