Those Old Soles

October 20, 2007
By Sarah Ngu, Irvine, CA

It’s easy to find them
in a room of young and old.

Watch their feet; they often drag and linger.

Watch their hands.
They randomly clench into fists;
then quickly
look at their throats and watch them tremble
from tears repressed
Before – snap - all is a calm duck on a lake.

Watch for the "Yeah, I know" and the downcast look.

Watch their eyes wander to--a cloud--
a black raven—their shoes--and into
your eyes,
plumbing their depths.

Look at their notebooks
or scraps of paper with hard-pressed words
framed with wild drawings,
probably splashed with water-spots
that they say came from
an "accidental spill from some water,"
as they shrug embarrassedly,
before they hide them away in wrinkled folders
that look a lot like their eyes,
but look past the etched wrinkles of trial
and calm voices and into
their freakin' eyes
and tell me if they're not
a humble infant's staring glass-eyed
at the crushing World of infinite everything.

And if you place your hand on their swollen hearts
you could feel how ferociously
they hold Love, Hate and Hurt,
All at once.

Praise them--they need it.
Don't praise them--they need it too much.
If you see their eyes light up after talking to you,
tell them quickly "all men are islands"
and then walk out of there to give them the decency
of crying in private.

Don't get too close to them for their sakes;
you might unravel them in a heap of hurt.

Above all, look at their shoes,
and tell me if they're not old soles.

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