How many times have I mistaken a pair of shoes for a beloved departed cat? A dark shape lurking just out of reach. Is that Maxine? No, it’s only my hiking boots.
On the weekends, he’d polish the brown wingtips he wore to work during the week. On the weekends, he’d wear his other pair of shoes: also brown, also leather, but more worn and without the decorative perforations.
Neither pair looked comfortable to me.
He had a scar on the top of one of his feet, a flattened knot of flesh. If I told you I remembered which foot, I’d be lying. He called it his wart. Said he’d gotten it when he was working on a loading dock and dropped a crate on his foot.
That didn’t look comfortable either.
“What’s that sound?” goes the song. “I like that sound. I love that sound.” A woman’s voice replies: “It’s the sound of my shoes.”
“Well, well, well,” my grandfather often said. And then he would always add “Three holes in the ground.”
A hole in the ground where I buried the memory of Dad. A dark shape, lurking just out of reach.
“Where are you going?” I’d ask when he would put on his shoes. He only put on his shoes when he was going somewhere. But more than once, when I stubbed a toe, he told me I ought to wear shoes in the house.
What’s a girl to do?
“Be careful,” he’d say, when I went out to play. “Be a good girl.”
“I’d love to comb your hair,” goes the song. “Your hair is such a mess.” And the woman’s voice replies, “I don’t like my hair neat.”
He wasn’t there the day I ran away. I brushed my hair before I left the house. I wanted to look good for my big adventure.
The wolf told me I was beautiful. This little piggy ran all the way home. I stopped brushing my hair. When my mother was well enough, she took me out and made me get a very short haircut.
“Just take off your shoes,” goes the song. And the woman’s voice answers, “These shoes stay on my feet.”
In my dream last night I kicked the wellhead until it fizzed and foamed and finally made a fountain in front of the school. I was wearing my hiking boots. Of course. And I ducked around the corner and kept walking until I was out of sight.