In my lifetime
two people have polished my shoes
just because it needed doing
and they loved me.

But today it’s just me
to do what needs to be done.
My black clogs worn almost daily
now scuffed beyond what’s tolerable.

I find my shoeshine bag
I hadn’t thought of for years
still carrying its life-long accumulations–
polishes in oxblood, tan and black–
cans pried open with a penny–
the oily aroma I remember from childhood.

Just as I did years ago,
I dump the contents of the bag
onto an old newspaper on the floor.

I set aside from the rest
the yellow saddle soap
and then the black polish,
a wood-handled brush and a soft cloth.

In imitation of my father,
I methodically clean, polish, brush
and shine with an old cotton tee shirt.

I’m role playing
for those who loved me,
who showed me how to love.