The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Canal Turtles

The Orange-and-White High-Heeled Shoes
By Ellen Bass

Today I'm thinking about those shoes — white
with a tangerine stripe across the toe and forceful orange heels —

that fit both my mother and me. We used to shop like that —
trying them on side by side. That was when there still

was a man who would cradle your heel in his palm
and guide your foot. Sometimes he would think he made a sale,

only to have one of us turn to the other —
and he would have to kneel again, hoping to ease another naked sole

into the bed of suède or leather. I thought those shoes
were just the peak of chic. And — my God —

you bought me a pair of orange cotton gloves to complete the ensemble.
Why is there such keen pleasure in remembering?

You are dead ten years. And these showy slippers —
we wore them more than half a century ago. The first boy

had not yet misted my breasts with his breath
and you were strong as a muscled goddess, gliding nylons

over your calves, lifting your amplitude into a breastplate.
Who will remember these pumpkin-colored pumps

when I die, too? Who will remember how we slid into them
like girls diving into a cedar-tinged lake, like bees

entering the trumpet of a flower, like birds disappearing
into the green, green leaves of summer?


Monday was Adam's 19th birthday! By this time 19 years ago, he was in the NICU because they were concerned at how low his blood sugar was, and I was begging for broth, jello, anything -- I hadn't eaten anything all day before he was born and we were both very hungry. Today he was extremely busy with summer school, since he has a math final on Friday and two papers to write for his geography class between now and then, so he brought Christine home to study with him. In the late afternoon when I'd finished various chores and Paul got home, we picked up my mother and went to Tara Thai, which was Adam's choice for a birthday dinner (I had panang curry, yay).

Then, since Adam had work to do, I watched Pocahontas with Christine. And when she eventually went home, while Adam went upstairs to finish working on his essay, Paul and I watched the second night of Tut, which remains mediocre yet compelling like Dallas. (As Adam pointed out when he walked through the living room on his way upstairs, the Pharaoh's friend is banging his wife and banging his sister and trying to take his crown? That's, like, three Shakespeare plays in one!) At least the people of color are mostly appropriately cast for a show set in Africa. Meanwhile, Daniel started work at Amazon, where he was fed and issued a new laptop! At the C&O Canal:


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