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RUINED SHOES      

Far out in the hard chop, a swimmer
climbing hand over hand
through the waves and breathing
the odd way swimmers breathe,
not evenly, but when he could,
paused, just paused in the water
as it rose and fell.

I saw him turn and look at shore,
then turn to face where no shore was.
He set out again, slowly, like a man
whose shoulders hurt. I watched
him go over the curve of the earth,
and after that, watched the sea
come step by mincing step
over the shingle, ankle deep.
I walked the little way home
over the shingle, ankle deep.
I walked the little way home
with the touch of it
cold in my ruined shoes.

      — Scott Murphy


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