House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

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Would this make a better essay, than a poem?   Or keep it a prose poem.  I could change line length--making it a box of prose. Thoughts?

She made me wear “boys’ shoes”,
those brown oxfords, with boxy toes.
Sturdy, orthopedic, with hard soles, laces up the front.
Mother preached, “You’ll thank me some day
when you don’t have fallen arches and sore feet.”
Kids teased me, showing off their
arch-less Keds or cute ballet flats.

I carried green suede gym shoes
stealth, in a brown paper sack out the door.
Cutting through the back yard on my walk to school,
I stopped at the evergreen hedge,
switched out the shoes,
sliding the oxfords into the crumpled sack, then
stuffed them hideously out of sight under the bushes.

Those gym shoes grew thin and worn,
my baby toes poking out through holes on each side.
Teachers asked, “Can’t your parents afford to buy
you new shoes?”  I said nothing.

After school, sneaking home through the back yard
I donned the oxfords, rushed in the door,
greeted mother, heading to the basement
with a manicure scissors and the concrete floor.

My work began, snipping the stitching, and dragging my feet
across concrete, scuffing tops and soles, which
occupied me until dinner, every day after school.

When mother saw the oxfords were wearing out,
off we went to Wally’s Shoe Repair on 6th.
Those sturdy shoes were re-soled, stitched and
polished shiny like an apple, in oxblood red.

The death of my shoes revived by the name
"Oxblood" turned my stomach.
 The shoes wars continued until junior high when
I tearfully begged my dad to
Take me shoe shopping.

He felt some pity I think.  It was awkward
enough just being thirteen without even
being teased, wearing "boys shoes".
He took me to Mayers Shoe Store downtown.
Soon I was slipping shiny copper pennies
into the front of new Weejuns.

In the years since, my arches have fallen,
bones crunch, feet hurt, spurs rise up
and rub painfully upon my feet.  I wish my
Mother had made me wear “boys shoes”,
brown oxfords, with boxy toes,
sturdy, orthopedic with hard soles and laces up the front.
She said, “You’ll thank me some day
when you don’t have fallen arches and sore feet.”

© 2019 House of the Tomato