Earth’s crammed with heaven…
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.
I spend a lot of time each day considering my feet. It’s not glamorous, I know, but it’s necessary in a climate where forty degrees and a parking lot full of slush can drop to ten and a skating rink in just one day. I wear at least two different pairs of shoes and socks each day. First it’s snow boots and thick socks most mornings for a drive to work so short that that car barely warms up and a trek across the snowy parking lot. I store those in my classroom armoire and switch to the dress shoes that I cram into my school bag with a thermos of coffee and my laptop and the grading I didn’t do last night. Tights or knee-high nylons go with those, and my feet are cold all day long because my desk is by the window and I’m too much a creature of habit to move it. Those shoes are usually flats, usually black, sometimes with little salt lines on the outside edges from that day I wasn’t expecting snow and had to brush off the car in inadequate footwear. They’re flats because I stand almost all day, pacing as I lecture, scurrying to the bathroom between classes, kneeling next to seated students to work on their writing. Comfort is key. On days when I need a little extra energy, the simple act of packing my Keds instead of dress shoes can boost my mood in just one step. Teaching isn’t the most formal job, and gray canvas goes with everything, right? My last footwear of the day is a warm pair of socks and slippers. The rubber bottoms squeak incessantly on our faux-wood floor, but I’ve had them forever and there’s that creature of habit thing.
What is it about feet that makes us so invariably, embarrassingly human? The connection with the earth? The dirt they track into our neat lives? Their homely appearance?
There’s a moment every morning after I take off my boots. My bag with a change of shoes is across the room, so I walk it in my mostly bare or stocking feet. It’s the strangest sensation of vulnerability and home.
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.
Still waters run deep
The ocean is 36,200 feet deep at its lowest point.
Though it’s almost impossible for the ocean to be still due to wind and tides, there are calm areas near the equator called the doldrums. Ships used to get stuck there for weeks with no wind in their sails.
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
If you’re my age, you probably just know the chorus of this song, maybe even just the line where the title occurs. Ever thought about what it means or why it was written though? Have I got a story for you.
1973: The song is a UK single on Elton John’s record Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. It’s a threnody (that’s a song or poem written for a dead person for all you non-English majors. Jk. I’m an English teacher and didn’t know that.) written in honor of Marilyn Monroe. The first line is “Goodbye, Norma Jean.” Monroe’s real name was Norma Jean Baker. Lyricist Billy Taupin was inspired to write the song when he heard the phrase “candle in the wind” used to describe Janis Joplin (died age 27). In an interview, he said the song was about “the idea of fame or youth or somebody being cut short in the prime of their life. The song could have been about James Dean…could have been about Jim Morrison … how we glamorise death, how we immortalise people.” The song reaches #11 in the UK charts.
1997: Elton re-records the song as a tribute to Princess Diana, whom he was very good friends with. He changes many of the lyrics to reflect her life and legacy, switching the first line to “Goodbye, England’s Rose.” The song soars to number one in dozens of countries and is now the second best-selling single of all time—just after Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”
Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth?
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire
Heads, lips, fingers,
hands, nose, mouth,
hair, arm, chin, face,
Another month of poetry
and all I can do is reread
those few past victories.
All Japanese nouns
are singular and plural
I should have saved this
post for next month’s theme.
Why I Don’t Write Poetry:
Bread and Wine:
They always talk about the smell of the ocean
So every time I chose “Ocean Breeze”
from the shelf
I closed my eyes, breathed, and heard a gull cry.
Turns out it smells of nothing.
Or maybe fish.
Like when expectations and realities
don’t quite match up.
Though I suppose I always knew
wax could never smell like water.
Abby Zwart (’13) teaches high school English in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She spends her free time making lists of books she should read, cooking, and managing the post calvin.