My favourite pair of shoes, I bought about ten years ago. Back then, I didn’t know many things.
We hadn’t met.
You said you liked my shoes. I said I felt comfortable in them. Like I was with you.
We could talk about anything back then. Now I feel as if my feet are bare. Like my hands, bare and sensitive to touch.
I couldn’t talk anymore. Things are carefully considered before spoken. But there’s love, I’m sure of it. There’s a measure of properly considered opinion in what we say these days. Like we’re afraid to hurt each other. Like news is news. And love is still what we’re talking about.
When I wake you up in the morning, I feel a presence, a body to touch with speaking, with character, with tension and hope. It is less like silence, more like concern.
I put on my shoes, the shoes which knew my ways, which knew my paths before I knew you, and feel closer to the ground, the ground which has been there forever.
I feel close to the things in our home.
A paperweight, a calendar, a map of the world, a stocking, a pencil, a typewriter, and many more things I consider singly.
Each is satisfied with giving, with staying. In our home. In our house.
In the time it takes to leave, we arrive where we want to.
Jill Chan is the author of Phone Call and Other Prose Writings (2017), The Art of It: Three Novellas (2011), and six books of poetry: What to Believe (2017); On Love: a poem sequence (2011); Early Work: Poems 2000-2007 (2011); These Hands Are Not Ours (ESAW, 2009), winner of the Earl of Seacliff Poetry Prize; Becoming Someone Who Isn’t (ESAW, 2007); and The Smell of Oranges (ESAW, 2003). She is one of the poets featured in the New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive. Her work has been published in Eunoia Review, Poetry New Zealand, takahē, JAAM, Brief Magazine, Deep South Magazine, Trout and many other magazines in New Zealand and abroad.