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October 2019 Vol. 15 No. 3

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Matthew Caretti

You Can Know a Man by His Shoes

His downcast eyes and frown consistent in each worn photo. Looking into some distorted mirror of himself. Upside down. Oddly curved. The trueness of his upright self darkened and debilitated. A reflection of his many troubles. His regrets about the past and worries of the future. Two of six children out of wedlock. No son to share his love of big game hunting. A cheating business partner. All there in the dark shine of his shoes. In his dejected stare.

Still Grandmother said always, “Look up, Daddy!” After all, he was by most measures a success. A Depression-era farmer become a prosperous businessman. A dealer of the great American Ford automobile. A lover, too, of the wild. The open spaces of his travels and his own bit of forest in the nearby mountains. During his long walks, a book on local birdlife in his pocket. Then at home in his soft armchair, a collection of Robert Frost poems on the daystand beside him. A wealthy man. A well-travelled man. A learned man.

Yet this thing called happiness remained ever elusive. He buried himself in his work and the daily newspaper. Smoked his pipes till the amber bits cracked. Worked his heart to an early failure. And left his last grandson – now helping to sort through his closet – to know only the divided accounts of his old shoes. The refracted tales of the immaculate shine. And the abraded accounts of the scuffed midsole.

waxed laces
pinching at the knots
left in situ