Those Shoes by Suzannah Dalzell

Those mud caked shoes in the garage,

laces studded with tiny burrs, those shoes

traveled to Africa, to Kenya, to Merrueshi.

They strode into the bush at dawn through tall

wet grass past zebra, Maasai giraffe, improbable

bearded wildebeests, Kori bustards. Followed

single file behind Kabole, Sipoi, and Kwenia,

shuka clad warriors with ochered braids

and long, flat-bladed iron lion-killing spears.

Those shoes, LL Bean heavy leather, braided laces,

thick soles once grey now red-brown with the mud

of Merruishi, left their imprint next to lion tracks

on the bank of a waterhole, visited Mama Kakuta’s

village set low in the bush, squat loaf-shaped

mud houses encircled with dry thorny branches.

They sank in the muck of a corral surrounded by

slant-eyed, wattle necked Maasai cows, bleating

goats and laughing twin girls in lavender organdy.

Those shoes stood on the savannah as the sun set red

behind The Chulu Hills and turquoise superb

starlings squabbled over roosts in the acacias.

Muddy and rank they traveled home in a zip-lock

bag, the burrs, thorns, and cow shit undeclared

at customs. Now warped, filled with spider webs

those shoes in the garage rest toe to heel

and dream, dream of Merrueshi, of Kenya, of Africa.


BIO: Suzannah Dalzell lives on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, where she divides her time more or less evenly between land conservation and writing. Her work has appeared in Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, Pilgrimage Magazine, EarthSpeak, About Place and Raven Chronicles.

Featured image is of Sipoi in Merrueshi

Photograph by Bronwyn Dexter.