Shoes

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Momma taught me to tie my shoes

When I was four years old.

When I was five,

I taught myself to untie my shoes.

My feet weren’t made for shoes,

I would tell momma.

And she would tell me

That shoes were made for feet.

Not the other way around.

 

Momma told me not to run around

Without my shoes on.

Because feet weren’t made

For the real world.

And I would get cuts

And I would bruise

And momma would hand me my socks

And tell me

That skin wasn’t made to swell.

 

But then momma became mom

And she stopped telling me

About skin

And its tendency to bruise.

And I stopped wearing shoes

Because my feet liked feeling

The raw earth beneath them.

And they liked the look of bruises.

 

But soon my welts became callouses

And my skin got so thick

That words bounced off

Of me

Instead of digging in.

Like the way the rocks began

To sink deeper into the earth

When I stepped on them

Instead of poking into my toes.

 

And my feet stopped feeling the earth

Surrounded by their ugly shield

And mind-made shackles of shame.

And I started to wear shoes.

It was leather on rock

And rubber on pavement.

It was cotton on tile

And plastic on wood

And I hid my feet away.

 

Oh! They used to be so tender,

Soft and smooth and sweet,

But I built up a wall

Of skin

And cotton

And rubber

That hid away my feeble feet

Because the rocks

Had begun to hurt too much.

 

And now when I take off my socks

My feet are hard and pointy

They are nubby

And rigid.

But now I can walk on rocks

I can run and jump

And skip and play

Where everyone else

Is too scared to go.

 

But I miss my soft skin.

I miss the feel of the earth

And I even miss

The cuts

And the bruises.

But now

My feet fit inside a shoe

Like they were made for it

And I can’t seem to pull them out.

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