My Mother’s Shoes

I wear your soles now,
step out on your heel
and point to the future
in your old leather toes.

I see you yesterday,
walking in the city
far from the fields
and the Cornish lanes
limping from St James’
to Oxford Street
and I know you could kill
for those old
Cornish boots
baggy at the back
black as the fall
of clotted soil from
a potato field.

Instead, you drive
the crowds apart
a combine harvester
chewing up the past
bleeding into the stitches
of brothers and fathers and uncles:
cutting your own track –

as if your life
depended on it.