Two pairs of well-used leather shoes
belonging somehow together,
we sit in the sunlight by the door
and go over each other's past.
You are the afterthought of a Roman calf,
born in the shadows of a goddess's temple,
bred to wisdom and vanity, from life to death
you are grown into the centre of all attention
then a king made two shoes from you and gave you to a monk.
Meanwhile, I was a baby Elk in China.
The Mongols made a shield of me, the Persians
a parchment in Balkh, and in Bamiyan
I acted as a standard all could see.
In Kabul I fell into the hands of a cobbler
before a thief with one eye bought me.
You, from the time you were a pair of shoes,
up to this present moment
have remained essentially the same.
The monk and subsequent generations
neither wore you nor noticed you much.
You're still remarkably fresh
but I have walked among robbers
day after day and night after night
and they dragged me with them to here
where now we sit by this door in the sun
and forever have known each other,
since we are two pairs of shoes made from leather.