T H E   R E D   S H O E

Janet Buck

Among sardine cans of smelly traffic
there stood a dirty old
red shoe with laces gone--
still flirting with its destiny.
One wheel grabbed
canvas in its teeth.
Another kicked it back at me
like gravel of a bygone cliff.
I saw the road of loneliness
that stretched to meet my oddity.
The scarlet path of prostitutes
with medicine's lipstick on my cheeks.

I've worn that look of uselessness
hopping up a flight of stairs.
Jaws clenched courage fighting bears,
but knives would steal
the milkweed tufts of motion's
oatmeal drying up.
Dump trucks leaning over cliffs
begging pain to empty out.
I've sat at stoplights for my bones--
crawled across a busy street.
Inch worms after butterflies
with empty pocket miracles.

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Swagazine 9
Winter 2001

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