Tuesday, June 4, 2013

NEW POEM: "Shoes" (My Graduation Poem!)

I read this poem at my high school graduation three days ago. It's centered on the imagist device. Come to think of it, I really don't think that it needs more explanation... the only semi-obscured-in-symbolism parts would lose their beauty should I attempt to explain them, so I'll just stop talking and let you jump right in. As Robert Frost once said, poetry gets lost in translation.


You started out
with the smallest shoes—
tiny cups of leather
clinging to your
pattering feet, as you
clambered over the
suddenly flowering world.

Every treehouse
was Montecristo and
the house cat
was as large as you.

You forget where you put
those shoes sometimes,
just as you sometimes
forget you wanted to be Cinderella.

Your brother wanted
to be an astronaut—
his light-up shoes twinkled
down the drafty corridors
of the space museum,
plastic microgalaxies
against a marble exosphere.

Once in a while now, he will
put his business homework aside,
forget that he knows
what a funding ratio means,
pull those shoes from
the crooked bottom drawer,
slap them together,
and watch them sporadically glow
in the stale winter night—
faint lanterns half-lighting
the path to some alien dream.

After that were the tennis shoes,
with scars by baseball diamond dirt
and stomach-lurching slides,
like fork scratches on a birthday cake.
They were with you
the first day your coach
said he was proud (of you,) and
the stained, white frays
of weary shoelaces
bounced with your leaping heartstrings.

Next were the black heels,
for the first funeral you attended,
the first time you realized
how significant people are
when they are gone…

then, the red heels,
for the first formal,
as you nervously
blinked your eyeliner away
and your date stumbled
on his gargantuan loafers
and you blinked into the Now…
walking on stilts as the world
erupted with shivering fireworks.

Today, you have the leather shoes,
as black and python-thick
as some ultimate seal,
that look as though
they were made
for walking on bridges.
You will walk away
from the other shoes—
the baby shoes, the astronaut
shoes, the homerun shoes—
click your way to the diploma
like some solemn leather metronome,
some crumbs of time
leaking from your fingers like particles
from an opened salt shaker,
grind your heels into the soles
with resolute force,

and you will not look back.


  1. This was so vividly beautiful, Constance! I keep forgetting how visual a writer you are.

  2. Thanks Sara!! Yeah... actually, a couple years ago, my writing was very "tell" instead of "show." Then I started taking a different kind of creative writing class, was introduced to Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and became VERY visual :)