Shoes squish and splutter

across the muddy grass-pressed bank.

With every step my sockless toes are washed

and sprayed like dirty dishes in the sink.

The water squeezed back and forth

recycling remnants of Mr. McDowell’s pond

into a natural green clean machine.

I feel that I can wiggle my toes

inside their slobbering cases

the underside of lace and tongue

of sneaker canvas

lick along the gravel path back home

until they’ve scrubbed their subjects raw and red.

I tear them off.

They smell between soured water

used to scrub off dinner plates

and a cracked bucket from the barn

burrowed in a film of rainwater.

So I arrange them on the brick back porch

to bake beneath the sun’s sizzling scorch.