Then one morning you’re tying your shoelaces
And there they are, two more-than-cracks in your favourite shoe
Which couldn’t have been there the day before; or are you past
Observing details so close to home? And, yes,
For leather suddenly to give out without warning is unsettling
(Though, on reflection this is how things happen; for how terrifying
To base your philosophy on anticipating surprise and Accident!)Nevertheless the unease will not confine itself to shoes.

So of course you go back to the bathroom mirror
(Remembering the betrayal in that hotel room
When an unaccustomed arrangement of glass caught you unawares,
Showed you shapes your vanity never knew):
You go back to the mirror and test your courage
On a safe bit of self. Not quite as before but it knows – surely,
Something: the god of biology knows – this can’t be replaced
As easily as shoes. So what to do? You vow to take more care of the shoes.

from Looking Out, Looking In: New and Selected Poems(Anvil Press, 2009), © E A Markham 2009, used by permission of the author’s Estate and the publisher.

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