I’ve been taking a slightly different route to school these days, essentially the L side of the L7 square that is one full block in my walk. I’m not entirely sure why I changed–perhaps the perception of it being 50 less feet in the sometimes rather chill mornings, but more likely I’ve changed because it’s on the less-traveled sides of the streets. It’s a mostly unremarkable change–still residential, still perilously sidewalked, and perhaps skirting a marginally less affable block, but nothing that anyone can honestly notice at eight in the morning or four in the afternoon. I think the reason I keep walking that route is because one of the yards contains a discarded black loafer. It’s got a red plaid interior, and the shoe appears to be in fine condition. It doesn’t look chewed or stained or soiled. But it is certainly a black corduroy loafer near the farthest reach of their fence (because most yards have fences here–to keep dogs in or to keep dogs out or both, in fact). I don’t stop to look more closely at it–no one wants an odd, trenchcoated person eyeballing her yard before lunch–but I wonder who is looking more closely at it. Certainly it’s not the yard-owners, because it’s been there more than a week. But there is a spindle-armed shrub that grows through the fence not ten feet from the slipper, and every morning and every afternoon, it’s full of small, busy sparrows. I have to walk around the naked hedge because it spills over the sidewalk, but I am close enough that the little flock–four or five of them, not dozens–puffs and flits to the next shrub. I pass that one, too, and they hop along to the next, and it’s only after that do they mutter into their stitching feathers and go back to their original place to contemplate that single slipper. They rattle like crumpled paper in the dry branches, making leaf-crunching noises where there are no leaves to crunch.