My children have put on my shoes, the pair
of them, male and female we made them—
and boots with laces trailing; the shoes, mates—
the boy and girl not, often
contenders, all together now in this.
First, the single pair divided between them
without dispute, one shoe off, one shoe on,
feet lost in them, leg in up to the shin.
At the limp-and-drag pass in front of my chair,
I put my book down, but they turn away
before I can speak, kicking the footwear
into the corner and gone
back to the closet and back again in motley,
mad-shod, a singleton on each foot—
the separated twins of his sneaker and slipper,
her mismatch of sandals.
They crisscross the room, quickening the shuffle
to slam the heels on the floorboards,
not looking at me, not answering
to their names, intent on
the performance only, looking past
even each other, a flash of the whites of eyes
rolling, mouths open, the spooked-horse look,
and a few cries of half-stifled laughter,
but the fourth wall kept intact
as they discard onto the little mound
in the corner and race out to return
with two pairs undivided on each,
old loafers on her, but he’s gone formal:
processional glide of the long sedans
of gleaming black brogues, brougham
hearses. I am here I want to tell them, still here.