Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The wayward shoe

     What is a story, anyway?
     A chain of circumstance, 
     A skein of incidents, 
     Binding together characters, action, plot
     Or a gathering of facts,
     Assembled to lead toward a conclusion.
     But it doesn't have to be that.
     It could be anything.
     Like a child's shoe perched upon a fire hydrant.
     "What kind of story is that?" you ask. 
     Where are the characters?
     Well, there are two, for starters.
     A child of course.
     At that size, and along busy Walters Avenue, probably carried.
     A girl, judging by the pink lining and flowers.
     A boisterous girl, by necessity, 
     Kicking, playfully I like to think.
     But perhaps in tantrum.
     The mother, holding her with one arm.
     Maybe a bag in the other. 
     Eyes on her goal, a parked car perhaps.
     Keys already in hand
     Doesn't notice the airborne shoe.
     Flung by a chubby, arching foot
     Tumbling away from the pair
     And so our story begins.
     The little girl feels it instantly, misses it, 
     And maybe even cries out, and points
     But either lacking words
     Or ignored
     As kids often are
     The mother, preoccupied notices
     Only a higher pitch to the cry
     Doesn't turn, doesn't look, doesn't hear
     A shoe softly landing upon the grass
     And so they leave it behind.

     Now a lacuna, a span of time
     The cars start and stop, 
     The shoe waits
     The mother and child gone
     It could be a minute, or an hour
     Or a day
     The shadow shifts around the shoe
     The ordinary passersby pass by
     And time, which we craft stories to tame
     To pretend that we can
     Tumbles forward too.

     Then the second necessary character.
     Who starts the second act
     The one who notices the shoe 
     And lingers
     Where others either didn't see
     Or saw and didn't care
     It wasn't me but
     I like to think it is a guy
     His heart swells
     Pity for the errant shoe
     Picks it up.
     And regards it.
     Such a little shoe.
     To be out of place
     Like us all, now and then
     Such a shame
     And he looks around.
     Searching for the woman.
     As men will do.
     But seeing no mother.
     And no child.
     Nothing but the indifferent cars sliding by.
     His eyes fall upon the fire hydrant.
     Newly painted.
     Redder than red. 
     Our third character.
     To begin the third act
     The squire, the servant
     Squat and strong and mute 
     The vassal whose job.
     The man immediately realizes 
     It to hold the shoe, to offer it
     To the mom, should she return
     By accident or design 
     Searching for the lost shoe
     Or just happening by
     So he balances it
     Just so.

     And more time passes
     The hydrant tirelessly proffers
     The fourth character
     The hero of our story
     The wayward shoe
     An unexpected vigil
     Poised, balancing, en pointe
     Waiting for the mom 
     To come back and claim it
     Does she? Does she return?
     Or is the shoe buffeted away.
     To meet a lonely, inglorious end
     Discarded somewhere?
     It turns out our story is a mystery.
     As stories often are.
     Without an end
     But not without a moral:
     There is good in the world
     People who will pick up a shoe 
     A tiny lost shoe
     And have pity on it
     And balance it just so
     In the slim hope
     That one little lost shoe
     Will find its way home. 

     A postscript, 
     One final character
     On a rainy night, the last in June
     Sets out on a solitary mission
     The narrator, stepping lively
     To rendezvous with a shoe
     That may or may not still be there
     The sky dark, the heavens drip
     The hydrant ... once again bare
     Not on the ground either
     Our heroic shoe must be claimed and home
     Or else gone off alone 
     To search for new adventure
     As must we all. 


  1. "...And time, which we craft stories to tame
    To pretend that we can
    Tumbles forward too."


  2. Wouldn't you like to think Alice Otterloop placed it there to rest after she danced on her manhole cover?

  3. I saw a shoe in the bird & butterfly sanctuary at Montrose harbor today. An adult's shoe. How does that happen? Brings up questions. Still, would rather see a lone mysterious shoe than the condoms and potato chip bags strewn about. People are such pigs.


Comments are vetted and posted at the discretion of the proprietor.