Saturday, August 29, 2015

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

The Orange-and-White High-Heeled Shoes

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?

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