Put yourself in my shoes



When I was a teenager,
at a lecture on Sartre,
someone clever said:
‘You can’t put yourself
in someone else’s shoes,
because there’s already
someone wearing them.’
And I believed him.


Fifteen years later
at a reception centre
for asylum seekers,
I remember the clever man
when I meet another man.
This man is not wearing shoes.
This man is sharing his shoes
with someone else.


When the one wants to go out,
he has the shoes;
when the other has to go out,
then he wants the shoes.
When one is shod, the other is not.
When one is out, the other is not.


The mathematics of poverty, I see,
mirrors the rigour of existentialist philosophy.
The clever man, perhaps, was right.
But let the cobbler do his job
and re-form the worn-out metaphor
with hammer and awl:


re-fashion it into the finest footwear
that shines as though on fire,
and hand it, with a knowing smile,
to the barefoot refugee,
whose experience shows
that you can put someone else in your own shoes.


Copyright © 2014. Terry J. Bradford
Todos los derechos reservados. All rights reserved

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