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.
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.
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.
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
© CHRISTINE VIAL