I’m retiring my black leather boots. Ankle high, round toebox, thick rubber sole. Dark as oil in places. After eight years, worn smooth like slippers, no longer gripping the ground. I bought them on Sixth Ave., around the corner from my grad school professor’s apartment in Chelsea. She was a New Yorker
writer for many years, under William Shawn. Rubbed elbows with giants like A.J. Liebling and Joseph Mitchell. My wife and I stayed at her place whenever we visited Manhattan. Back when I was convinced of certain things. That my MFA was a literary achievement. That New York was the answer. My professor once told me about a favorite student who graduated a couple years before I arrived on campus. Daisy was a staggering talent, she said. But went back to the midwest after graduating and was never heard from again, at least not in print. I never saw a picture of Daisy or read any of her work. But in my mind she wore olive green army pants, a patched purple jacket, her straw-colored hair cut short except for sharp bangs that swept across her pudgy face. Her talent kept in a breadbasket on top of the fridge. For a while, I used to hang onto Daisy like a prow, feet dangling above the floodwaters. I’ve since let her go, along with various other fantasies and nightmares. But I'm finding it harder to part with these scratched-up boots. All the roads and sidewalks and puddles and stains and snowbanks they’ve logged. I stare at them while I lace up my brand new Keens. I cast my eyes about the mudroom, then stride toward the two boots. For now, I’ll stand them by the door, side by side, like a pair of gargoyles casting away the rain.