Record Stride

In a Vermont bedroom closet

With a door of two broad boards

And for back wall a crumbling old chimney

(And that's what their toes are towards),

I have a pair of shoes standing, Old rivals of sagging leather, Who once kept surpassing each other, But now live even together.

They listen for me in the bedroom To ask me a thing or two About who is too old to go walking, With too much stress on the who.

I wet one last year at Montauk For a hat I had to save. The other I wet at the Cliff House In an extra-vagant wave.

Two entirely different grandchildren Got me into my double adventure. But when they grow up and can read this I hope they won't take it for censure.

I touch my tongue to the shoes now And unless my sense is at fault, On one I can taste Atlantic, On the other Pacific, salt.

One foot in each great ocean Is a record stride or stretch. The authentic shoes it was made in I should sell for what they would fetch. 381

But instead I proudly devote them To my museum and muse; So the thick-skins needn't act thin-skinned About being past-active shoes.

And I ask all to try to forgive me For being as over-elated As if I had measured the country And got the United States stated.


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