When I was little, I could not grasp the distinction
between my shoes and my feet. I called both pairs
“feet.” I once said, “I need to learn to tie my feet.”
When I wanted to go and both seemed nowhere
near, I’d cry, “I can’t find my feet.” When my sole
wore through the rubber, I’d tell my mother, “I need
new feet.” The heels, arches, and toes at the end
of my legs were still what I walked on, bare or not,
and I could fly down the sidewalk as fast as I needed,
with or without, swiftly pursued or simply exuberant.
Once, after we swam a creek, my brother, grinning
demon that he was, snatched my feet from my hands
and launched my twin soles skyward, laces knotted,
tongues spinning and eccentric. I had tied the laces
tightly, in a newly-mastered bow. I was amazed
to follow their loopy flight, and when I saw my feet
over my head, suspended, sparking on black lines
drooping from leaning, weathered poles and bellied
earthward beneath gray sky, I could see the new
height required scoldings, spankings, and shopping.
Staring up, barefoot on that dirt road, I knew then
I needed to know my shoes from my feet since one
pair shod the sky, and I was going somewhere else.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 1.
See all items about Eric Paul Shaffer