by Rick Noguchi
The Shoes of Larry Arakawa
His shoes were made of water
And when he walked he flowed.
One foot after the other,
His stride kept him moving
Gracefully forward so that he strolled.
His was the recognizable walk of elegance.
All the neighbors knew him:
The man who sauntered the streets
Each step full of piety.
He walked with the strength of the universe
Under his feet, yet no one knew
Where he went. He always drifted through
Gallantly, so distinguished in his meander.
If anyone tried to follow him,
His shoes were prone to a shift in tide.
He then gathered the momentum of a river—
He rushed, and in his rush he surged ahead
To walk the walk of a flash flood.
He cut a path
Clearing everything before him.
Behind him, he left a mess. Mr. Ken Asawa, the Man with Two Left Feet
Welcome mats, lawn ornaments, cars scattered
Everywhere, yet his foot prints evaporated
Even if he wore one of each shoe,
A left side and a right side, people would still notice
That Mr. Asawa was full of grace.
His walk was perfectly choreographed.
His stride elegant, yet powerful.
He walked the walk of man
Self assured in his every step.
Despite the fact that his body wanted
Always to pull right, veer away from his path.
Instead he wore what he had, two left
Shoes for two left feet.
A right shoe on a left foot where a right foot should be
Made no sense to Mr. Asawa
Who walked the walk of any other
Man only better. The spring in his gait
Precise for someone with two left feet.
A left foot in a right shoe would provide
No support for his arch and would damage his sole.
It was how he knew the world,
A little off center, a slight draw to the side.
Mr. Asawa learned early to compensate for the difference,
The tilt in the earth’s axis which no one notices.
For him, the misalignment was normal
And so he walked a straight line
The same as everyone else—one foot after another.
Although his foot prints reveal otherwise.