Published on Academy of American Poets (

Children Wearing My Shoes

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.


Copyright © 2018 Jason Sommer. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Winter 2018.


Jason Sommer

Jason Sommer is the author of The Laughter of Adam and Eve (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013), winner of the Crab Orchard Series Open Competition; The Man Who Sleeps in My Office (University of Chicago Press, 2004); Other People’s Troubles (University of Chicago Press, 1997); and Lifting the Stone (Forest Books, 1991). He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, among other honors.

Date Published: 2018-06-04

Source URL: