My father taught me shoes do not belong
in the trash can. Shoes can be repaired.
As long as they have shape and a shred
of leather, shoes can be repaired.
New heels, new soles, fresh polish,
new laces. No need to discard old shoes.
Even insoles can be replaced with
softer and better materials, made even
more comfortable than they were new.

That was before plastic and glue and mesh
cloth replaced leather and nails. Does
anything my father taught me matter any more?
Is the handshake, also, an antiquated relic
that’s long since breathed its last useful
breath? A pig in a poke, a poke in the eye?
I never wanted to belong to the class of
weathered relics, clinging to pocket watches
like life preservers, while the sharks circle.

There came a day when suits and skirts
flooded vintage clothing stores, awash in
memories too precious to discard but too
awkward to recycle, too ancient to reclaim.
Nearby, on those shelves, sepia photos of
lifetimes forgotten from one generation to
the next sit silently, the memories captured
in those frames long since erased and relegated
to the mockery of history, without a future.

The games we play, the words we say, even our
smiles become outmoded and unnecessary as time
slips, unnoticed, through our fingers like water
leaking unseen from an aquifer, leaving only thirst
and wishes for a different outcome in its wake.
The only thing that will quench our thirst for
yesterday is today, but today will become tomorrow
and yesterday will become a relic that no longer
matters and, perhaps, never really did.

If experience mattered, we would value the struggles
of people who encountered hardships and overcame.
If lives mattered, we would admire the way they were lived,
not gossip about, nor simply forget, the way they ended.
Yet actions do not speak louder than words, do they?
Instead, they whisper and murmur the way secrets slide
over tongues too timid or too untruthful to speak.
We barely notice shoes in trash cans, hands in pockets,
photos in drawers, relics of the splinters of time.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
This entry was posted in Poetry, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Relics

  1. Thanks, Trish.

  2. Trisha says:

    Love this one, John!

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