Let me put on high heels,
and I’ll tell you a lie.
— from After April Rain,
Elizabeth Oxley


She’d be 103 if we hadn’t
lost her seven years ago,
my friend Gladys
who kept her best-
loved high heels
when life was down
to a twin bed in a small room.

In its closet the stilettos perched
except when she chose to take them out
for an airing. She’d wait till her caretaker,
who was her son’s wife, who was a nurse
who knew everything and then some
left the house to run errands
in white running shoes.

My friend was cagey
with impeccable manners.
They were how she’d gotten around
as a travel writer based in Manhattan.
As a woman with a married lover
whose wife she was careful to protect.
Manners were how she got around
good intentions, near the end.

Keeping the stilettos,
keeping them hidden
kept her close to her truth.

Marjorie Power’s newest poetry collection is Sufficient Emptiness, Deerbrook Editions, 2021. A chapbook, Refuses to Suffocate, appeared from Blue Lyra Press in 2019. The Atlanta Review, Epoch, Mudfish, Barrow Street and Southern Poetry Review have taken her work recently. She lives in Rochester, N.Y. and can be found at www.marjoriepowerpoet.com.