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your father's shoes

a house remembers

By Ward NorcuttPublished 5 months ago 1 min read
5
your father's shoes
Photo by Lina Verovaya on Unsplash

These walls need no flies

and they talk just fine

and they remember the details of you

*

Your knucklewhite little fingers

gripped around the brush

as you smooshed black polish onto your father’s shoes

You balled your left hand into a fist inside each one

almost up to your elbow

your job your responsibility serious little face all scrunched up and intent

careful not to get any on the laces end tucked inside like your father showed you

You leaned into the business of swirling and bristles and leather

set your teeth to the hard polishing part

all about speed of the brush speed fast brushbrushbrush

You stopped a few times with each shoe to take a breather

This was the time you put your feet in your father’s shoes and tied them for the first time

all by yourself

both shoes

never looking back at all

*

This I remember as you sat on those forest green steps down to all grey

cement floors and walls

where you almost learned to ride a two-wheeler pushed from one end to the other wobbling between your mom and dad

where you coveted your brother’s toy bazooka

where your cat dragged each of its dying litter into your sleeping bag to warm up

and you felt them cold on your toes

where you got to join the Me Too group years before it even existed

*

I remember all the details of you

even your piercing ice-blue eyes before they turned green

*

Don’t worry

I only tell folks stories of you

sliding on the polished hardwood in your Christmas socks

and the wonderful smell of your father’s big black shoes

CONTENT WARNING
5

About the Creator

Ward Norcutt

Playwright and poet.

My goal as a writer is to write thoughtful pieces of prose, poetry and stage plays. Hopefully, the end results are entertaining and engaging, with layers of meaning that make sense to the whole or a theme therein.

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Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (3)

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  • Dana Crandell5 months ago

    Well, I won't try to break this down any better than Mackenzie! So much to unravel here. And for me, some memories of the smell of polish and the toil of that task. Incredibly well written!

  • Mackenzie Davis5 months ago

    "This was the time you put your feet in your father’s shoes and tied them for the first time all by yourself both shoes never looking back at all" — This speaks of such turmoil, I feel, with the speaker’s father. To not look back, yet to put on his shoes, that says a lot. Almost (perhaps) an unconscious putting on, but the conscious not looking back. "where you coveted your brother’s toy bazooka where your cat dragged each of its dying litter into your sleeping bag to warm up and you felt them cold on your toes where you got to join the Me Too group years before it even existed" — Wow. These lines are exquisitely written, yet SO rich with violence, each of a different kind. The implied violence of a toy bazooka and the fascination a little boy has with it (unconscious violence), then the deaths of just-born kittens, then the sexual violence of Me Too. What is happening in these lines? The speaker’s life, of course. But all these associations with cold gray cement, I’m assuming all in different places, through childhood, (perhaps) homelessness or expulsion of some kind, through harassment and violation…This is such a dark stanza, but riveting, when combined with the veneer (literally) of the metaphor of polishing his(?) father’s shoes. "sliding on the polished hardwood in your Christmas socks and the wonderful smell of your father’s big black shoes" —Of course, you end it with polish again, polished hardwood and Christmas, the glossiest of holidays. I am seeing a dark underbelly that is skated over by those in proximity and by the speaker himself, who ends the poem enjoying the smell of the polish he applied. Perhaps a relationship too glossy to be true… This is masterfully done, Ward. Just amazing. Sorry for rambling on so long. I couldn’t help myself.

  • I love memories like these. You did a great job conveying your thoughts here!!!

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