[wpaudio url=”/audio/march12/Stolorow.mp3″ text=”listen to this poem” dl=”0″]
And I claim, quite simply, that it was his shoes:
how sitting in his den for our talk he told me
“facts so you’ll know” which I could never refute
because I did not know but only felt and could never
say to him, my father, who never heeded the boy
in the earth of me, my wish for quiet
deep abiding quiet of heavy blue smouldering Florida
the off shore breeze keeping the waves still, fat rolling noiselessly
out of nylon and breasts and rears and palm trees
standing sleepy attention, mortal before condominium,
skin the scent of lotion. . . .

My father! I looked at the perfect leather of
the soles of his shoes, the untouched heels, how nothing
was worn, how when he crossed his legs to make
his points wave on wave he showed the underside
as if he knew this too would stop me, my faint
wonderings, the voice inside that hummed.

And instead, I looked out over the penthouse balcony
out past the sound of air-conditioning, of money, out
beyond the elevators that raised the dead, the long hallway
and locked door, the wheelchair outside the bathroom
for Mother—and considered the magnificence the sheer
finality of the gesture of leaping into the common humidity
the air of possibility and so bring this hopeless boy
down onto the tennis court to release me here
for this hearing where you have asked
and I have answered that it was his shoes
don’t you understand? his perfectly clean
and unused shoes.