The clouds are generous, always forgiving
who they were and who they become,

and water likewise, knowing its certain way
through the most circuitous crevice to the all-accepting sea,

but I am not sure I know how
to fill another’s shoe and bluster on

even as I see my brother sloshing through his cellar
in his worn loafers, or my sister,

whose sandals are the only boots that bear up
under all her weight as she lurches her dogs down the muddy street.

I can understand my cousin in her glass slippers
this pair is too big, this pair is too small,

but I am judgmental, I won’t last
a quarter of a mile in her stilettoes

and yet I wonder how my father
who had no money to buy me new shoes

felt when he cut the toes off my short oxfords
so that I could grow.

Lois Marie Harrod’s 17th and most recent collection Women will appear in February 2020 from Blue Lyre Press. She is continually published in literary journals and online ezines from American Poetry Review to Zone 3. Visit her online work at