The Red Shoe


The Holocaust museum at Auschwitz

One red shoe

in a case heaped high

with old, faded and worn,

black, brown and grey shoes.


Imagine holding that red shoe

in your hand.


Look closer:

at the cheap fabric that buckled and tore;

the heel that has worn down unevenly;

the sweat stains on the lining;

the blood stain where it rubbed at the back.


Imagine the foot that was once inside the shoe:

with its thin pearly nails

with those patches of dry skin

with its crooked little toe

with the scab on the heel where a blister burst and healed and burst again


Imagine the relief

of easing off that too- tight glamorous

cost- more- than- you- can- really -afford shoe

while waiting for the bus home

after the dance.


Imagine that foot removed from that shoe

and the shoe placed with its twin

on top of a pile of neatly folded clothes

at the shower entrance.


Stop imagining.

It’s too terrible.


The foot that was poisoned burnt

and the remaining bones ground to dust.


Stop I said stop.


The red shoe that lost its twin

as it was piled up

in an endless mountain of shoes

now in a case in a museum.


Look away.

The red shoe burns so bright

it sears our retina

and the soft matter of our brain.


Can you forget

that shoe that foot

even though you might want to?


Even though you can walk run dance away