The Left Shoe

by David Oates

The left shoe was not enough. When the three boys had capsized their canoe he saw it from way back in the line and it happened too fast to register, suddenly there were waterproof packs and orange helmets bobbing crazily past haystacks and shooting through quick-cupped forewaters and foaming rocks out into the calm, one helmet, two helmets... He couldn't bear to ring the doorbell. He stood frozen. How could you say the only thing they ever found was that left tennis shoe, beached a hundred yards downstream? And that it was in this brand-new canvas Scout bag, here, with the shiny round insignia, because the bag that belonged to him was wherever he was, with him and that other shoe.


David Oates teaches the Wild Writers Seminar in Portland, Oregon. His books of nonfiction and poetry about topics urbane and natural are visible here.