3 Poems >
Kip found the clown shoes at a yard sale. They were in a box under a musty rainbow wig and some old jars of white face paint. “These are majestic, just look at them!” he cried, and put them on, his feet enormous on the cut lawn.
Kara found them ridiculous; stale red leather, bulbous and stretched thin with giant stars on each toe. Just looking at them made her unhappy. She asked him to drive home but he simply pointed down at the shoes and said, “Are you kidding?”
Soon he was wearing the shoes everywhere: getting milk at the store, walking the dog, helping the neighbor press down tulip bulbs into the soil. At first it was awkward, he stumbled down the sidewalk like a old drunk, and once she even had to rescue him from a restroom stall; he was stuck between the toilet and wall.
At work, they threatened to fire him if he ever wore the shoes again, but then he landed a big client who thought the shoes were, “full of whimsy and adventure” and they were tolerated soon after. One of his company’s more successful ad campaigns, “Kick Louder!” was inspired by Kip battling the vending machine with the shoes; trail mix and snowballs falling everywhere.
He’d wear them to cocktail parties and, everyone would chat about them. “Cool beans,” they’d say or “Where’s your tricycle?”
“Wonderfully sexy,” said one girl as she brushed her stockinged toe against the laces.
But soon enough talk of the shoes grew tiring. They’d ask about work or Kara but he’d always go back to the shoes. “Buoyancy–that’s the key, a simple turn on the heel and Bob’s your uncle!” One by one, they’d drift away and he’d stand alone in the corner, shining the shoes with an oilcloth, or rolling on his back, trying to balance his drink on the unwieldy soles.
Occasionally, the shoes came in handy. He crushed a spider in one step, just as it crawled up Kara’s leg, and once in a hailstorm, he kicked away a huge chunk of ice hurtling down at their heads. One warm summer day, he even wore them to the beach. She watched him float in the waves, the tips of the shoes pointing up towards the hot sun.
He even wore them during sex but it was humiliating, clunky shoes coming at Kara everywhere; an over-sized heel near her ear, a glittery star staring down at her breasts. She felt as if the circus had invaded their bedroom, midgets and elephants tumbling over the bed.
Soon she’d had enough. “You’re not really you anymore, the shoes have taken over,” she said, frowning down at them.
He looked at her in disbelief. But slowly took them off and laid them aside on the carpet.
“Oh my,” she said, looking down at his feet, perfectly pale, white and tiny like dried Chinese mushrooms. “They look so small now. You’d better keep them on.”
And he did.
published 6 April 2011