The Many Shoes of Marty Smith

The Many Shoes of Marty Smith

By Elizabeth Harper

I remember her,
when we were very little,
walking so fast,
my sister and I
to keep up,
in those high heels,
clicking on the sidewalk,
not waiting for traffic lights,
leaving us far behind,
trying to catch up.

She could dance
in high heels,
even The Charleston.

Dad didn’t want her to wear full length dresses.
He wanted her to show off her legs in those heels.

She would tell a story about me.
When I was very little,
between 2 and 3 years old,
we were traveling,
and I was miserable
for various reasons,
but especially because
my very favorite doll
I took everywhere,
Pussycat, had lost a shoe.
Mom couldn’t purchase
just one replacement shoe.
They were sold in pairs,
and that’s why, to this very day,
Pussycat has one extra shoe.

My dolls are very well-shod.
Dare I say, well-heeled.

I’m hard on my shoes,
wear them out,
until the heels are worn down,
and they have holes.

I love beautiful shoes,
but I don’t want my feet to hurt.

“Buy the shoes,” she would say.

Once I told her about a new boyfriend.
She said, “Can he afford to keep you in shoes?”
Defining financial solvency
in terms of shoe purchasing power.

Many people have referred to my mother as “a trip.”
I take it they mean it in the sense of
this definition of trip from Merriam-Webster:
“the experience of strange mental effects
(such as seeing things that are not real)
that is produced by taking a very powerful drug
(such as LSD).”

Mom didn’t take psychedelics.
She was psychedelic.
Did she know she might cause hallucinations,
delusions, and psychosis in others?
Maybe she did, and maybe she didn’t,
but I seriously doubt she would care either way.

She made you question
your own mind and sense of reality.

She may have tripped up others,
but she never tripped herself,
unless she was tripping the light fantastic.

How could she, when she
was doing such a good job
of finding money on the sidewalk
or on the boardwalk or on the street
or wedged in some place
nobody else would think to look?
You have to pay attention
to the ground to do that.
She had her feet on the ground
in ways more than one.

She found pennies,
change, of course.
One time she found a twenty.
One time I did too.

Even now, when I find a penny,
for good luck, I put it in my shoe.

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