Big Feet – Big Shoes

This conceited piece may provide scope for Holy Week Drama, though it is quite dense!

Big feet

Click click click

go the pinpoint heels of white summer sandals,

stylish on the broken pavement,

as she hurries to the sure hot date awaiting her.

Her feet are small, naked as the day she was born,

their ten scarlet dabs of varnish a pretty warning of what will come

after the smiles, the kiss, the vodkas and the turning key.


Meanwhile, Grandpa, with a painful ‘Jesus!’

eases from worn-out boots

the worn-out feet that stand him all day long

in a garden where not much grows:

his potatoes, carrots, even onions,

not a patch on his prize bunions.


Click click click  [the sound of cameras]!

Others get feet

that march to an easier beat,

the smooth sun-glistening model feet

photographed on recliners

by pool or beach, on ocean liners,

while designers, eager,

measure the multi-million feet of a Premier Leaguer

and cover them in boots and trainers, classy treads,

leaving pale imitations

to fall to our nation’s

kids for them to covet and to steal,

to fight and sigh for,

to die for? Like dogs thrown scraps of the master’s meat?


Ooooo no, doctor! Anything but me feet!

The ugly fit-for-nothing flippers

hanging off your ankle ends.

Feet run in our family, see?

Always trouble.


When I was a kid,

I loved to take my shoes off

and feel the freedom,

the slip and slurp of the frothy water

drawn back into the seaside tide.

And tiny pearls of summer sand stuck like glue.

And then I’d climb and clamber

on the high warm rocks;

and the cold ills, the chills of winter

would be baked out of my soul.


But things turn out not quite so neat

for every pair of feet.

The cast-off kids in flip-flops from Bombay to Bogotá:

their homes are dumps; no metaphor.

Each day they search the squalor of a billion emptied bins,

picking out the tins and plastic bottles from the smell,

swooping like beady-eyed birds on anything to sell.

And so they do survive each day

on less than you might throw away.


In other news:

the elderly victim was on the ground.

Wrong place, wrong time.

Tomorrow she would have been fine.

But today, the kicks without purpose

born of blind hate, break her skull, her bones,

battering and flattening her like rubbish for recycling.


But tell me now; think hard before you do:

was there ever in our tale of woes

a pair of feet (a tidy tally of soles, heels, toes)

that suffered more than that one gentle pair

of his, that bore him on the roads of Galilee

to speak his word of healing and of hope?


Yes, his feet were cradled, kissed, anointed,

washed in tears and dried with hair.

He learned from that that night, at supper

when two-by-two he took his followers’ feet and washed them clean.

“For if I do not wash your feet, you cannot learn from me.

If I do not teach you how to live, you cannot die with me.”


And then …

Of course, you know the rest.

The darkness and the garden.

The praying and the fear.

And the tramp of soldiers’ boots,

the shine of spear-point,

sword-blade in moonlight.

And “On your feet!” shouts an NCO from Sicily or Rome,

woken from his happy dreams of pretty girls back home.


The kiss.

The arrest.

The whipping and the thorns.


And then his feet are held again,

toes pointed for the dance of love,

as the long nails, newly-sharpened

are hammered through bones.

And hearts.


Eventually, the end.

Feet stilled, tongue silenced.

His body wrapped and buried in the tomb.


Only then do they see what massive feet he had;

feet broadened by countless miles;

heart softened by countless smiles.


And now his work is passed to those

he has commanded to wash feet.

A task for you; for me; for anyone who will.

For all who had enormous feet

leave enormous shoes to fill.



Wealands Bell 17.iii.16


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