On the wedding day, a girl is carried from her mother’s home by the husband,
Over the threshold to the waiting sedan.
Her shoes will be changed with a new pair prepared by her in-laws
Before she steps away on the new path of life. The old shoes
Become her mother’s souvenir, and once she is gone, she is a guest to her parents.
A widow takes off her old shoes and throws them away
At the outskirt of the village by the river,
For no one will keep her broken life except for the running water.
A woman in an affair is called a broken shoe; the more men she has,
The more broken she is. Once broken, such a shoe can never be amended.
I have never been explained why a woman is so closely associated with shoes.
In my sophomore year, I read of Freud, excited over
The claim that a shoe is a metaphor for the vessel of sex.
The next year, I read of Plath’s “Daddy” in which the father became a shoe
For the daughter to live, and her difficulty to breathe in it shows
That it must be a boot, a metamorphosis of something that grows into the legs;
Otherwise, it could have been a punt on the river Cam.
The most powerful swear I’ve ever heard is also about a shoe,
When an almost grown-up girl threatened another, fully grown-up:
"If you get me really irritated, I’ll kick into your pussy
And take it out as a reed-woven sandal."
This may prove that anger can be a real creative power.
My mother used to warn me against picking up any type of footwear,
Saying that will bring extremely bad luck;
The real implication, I understand years later, is
One who picks up the shoes of a dead will be led away,
Out of his life-course or his mind.
She also warns me against stepping into another’s footprints,
For the one who did not make his own way forward would go blind early.
Even when walking on thick snow, I had to shovel with my feet
Some snow into the holes, so that I was walking on my own footsteps.
My mother’s warnings have shaped me
Into a slow walker and a careful looker on the road.
June 20, 2009