Old, useless and precious container,
A smell, the musty cardboard that it feels.
Smooth surfaces, and harsh, creased vertices, a
Drawn out reveal like the string
Of an old shoe:
Lifting the lid, sarcophagus
For small children;
Inside, papery remains, tissue crinkles,
Tumble weeds of crunched-up schooldays
And that black, beetle-polish smell
Like a brand new book, painted to leather;
And under that remembering smell
The twin shells, two ornaments of dark
And shiny obsolescence. Lift from the paper
Two obsidian artifacts, which treasures we bestowed
As accolades of uniformity and glory.
My very own old shoes, worn so much
So long ago, beneath the stairs had kept.
This was very much inspired by Heaney, even though the structure is less regimented. The focus on one item, an ancient artifact shrouded in its own history, was the real drive for this. Revisiting any item from schooldays is bound to be an evocative and curious experience. I loved combining the physical properties of the shoe (black, leathery, musty, worn) with the emotional associations (beetle-like, autumnal, evocative of schoolboys and their exploits in the leafy streets at the start of a new school year). It’s rediscovery and reminiscence.