Poetry Shelf Autumn Season: Poets pick a word – Elizabeth Smither picks shoes



shoes:  my friend, Viva, had a large number of shoes, upwards of 40 pairs. Myself 12 max.

But in the end it came down to a pair of velvet slippers. Are slippers the soul of shoes?



Slippers  for Viva


 At the last your feet swelled and their shape

changed to a caricature of a foot. How

strangely arched, it seemed, the foot

you lifted from your only fit, the slipper.


All you could wear: slippers befitting a Mandarin

in maroon velvet with embroidered uppers

the widest size for your stiff high arch

to slide into, without a chance of straightening.


Racks and racks of shoes you possessed

boots and stilettos, sandals light as air

buckles, straps, suede, satin. Surely they

could have assembled into one hybrid pair


fit for your poor stiff foot that seemed

like a dinosaur trying to enter a building

the ceiling too low for the neck, the tail knocking

over the walls, the head like your pointing big toe?



© Elizabeth Smither 2017


Elizabeth Smither’s newest collection, Night Horse, will be published by AUP in June.





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