I wanted to wear the boots,
but I did not want them to be
a fashion statement. I wanted to earn them, to be the kind of person
that wore those boots.
So I tried them on. To see how they felt.
My mother liked men who wore boots like that.
And I liked my mother. I felt
useful— I thought
“A person who wears boots like these ought
to feel at ease with a hammer.”
So I got the boots. And I got a hammer.
I wanted to be the kind of useful person
who would need a hammer.
I wore the boots
true things— clean gardens,
and plant seedlings,
and water young shrubs. To build things. I remembered my father
with his new boots. He polished them. Gave them oil.
He was very proud of those boots!
And I wanted to be proud of my boots too.
I wore those boots
until there were holes in them.
There was a kind of pride in wearing used up boots.
I was given
the blessing of nature, of necessity,
to buy new ones.
Now, I know I’m going to work
when I pull my boots out.
And those who pay me
a certain kind of shoe to be worn. I told my wife,
“It’s like a uniform you have to wear.”
Then I recognized
that I did not want to where these boots every day. I wanted to be free
from having to wear boots. That there was a pleasure
playing with your feet. But, by then it felt strange
not to wear them.