Why Those Shoes

The bleary-eyed boys, a quarter century old,

caged in by time:

the impending prime of their life,

nearly skip over the pile of

misc. leather shoes whose

matches may be buried

in Auschwitz or Dachau or

in another pile in another museum or

in the fertile soil of the collective memory,

but instead they pause, put blinders on

to block out the horrific images in their periphery,

to ponder the pile of shoes.


The bleary-eyed boys in trendy high tops,

memory foam to support their soles,

take a moment to muster the grace

of their post-adolescent perspective,

and feel melancholy for the tiny feet that fit

into the misc. tiny shoes;

the bleary-eyed little Jews of the 1940s  have

nothing but collective memory to support their souls.


The bleary-eyed boys are jet lagged in the homeland,

bloated from dark lagers and pita pockets,

but for a moment, their shoes are in a pile;

they’re caged in not by the privilege of pending time,

but by their ancestral line punished for being alive.

Throats raw from a tearless cry,


the bleary-eyed boys agree to carry on

the collective memory, agree to

fill the big shoes left behind by the young children

because they know that those shoes

could’ve been their shoes, and

the question of why will never be satisfied, but

to be happy to be alive is enough.

For you child, I am happy to be alive.

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