About The Dead Woman and Red Shoes

 

For Big Tent Poetry Prompt: Dead Man Poetry
http://bigtentpoetry.org

About The Dead Woman and Red Shoes

The Dead Woman invented red shoes
so that she could move with ease,
from here to there, go anywhere
that might please her (she was restless,
filled with feckless ideas). Wanted only
to click heels in whatever fields of grain,
she might fallow. Callow of meaning,
buried in shallow sand on spit of land
that pointed to sea, but never quite
reached it. Needed to know, to see
for herself, what breed she might be
if she dug her wishes deep enough.

More About The Dead Woman and Red Shoes

The Dead Woman thought she could dance
like Mr. Bojangles, clicking her heels to impossible
heights, alighting at home with mere flick
of her ankles. Planted dreams, like kisses,
on cheeks of small children, thought they wound bloom,
fill rooms with sweet fragrance. Then had to watch them die,
a slow lingering death, never given breath of permanent
existence. With nothing of nurture to keep them alive,
they swiftly wilted, tilted in leaning towers of dimming
powers, collapsing one on another. Soon crashed
with huge splash into sea that swallowed them whole
in cold liquid bosom. And the Dead Woman knew
only one thing: she must let go of illusive red shoes,
plant bare feet into rich moist soil, actually do daily toil
of feeding her dreams, by beginning again.

Elizabeth Crawford  12/16/10

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About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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29 Responses to About The Dead Woman and Red Shoes

  1. Loved the agricultural references. They made me smile.

    So many lush details. THANK YOU!

    Hi Julie, women have been seen throughout history as closer to nature, wether as the committer of sin, or because of her ability to create the next generation. It seemed only proper to place her within the landscape. Thank you for your comments.

    Elizabeth

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  2. vivinfrance says:

    Elizabeth, you’ve done it again! You’ve left me awestruck on two levels: on first reading I failed to take in any significance because I was admiring the poetic, linguistic skill in the construction of, particularly, the first poem. And then on re-reading, on taking in the spirit behind the poem.

    Viv, thank you much. Although there are those who would not understand the spirit behind it, there are far more who would recognize it as their own. I knew I was not adhering to the strict structure of the form, when I did it. And the word dance seemed to illustrate it far better than the sentence stucture called for, so I went with sound and sense rather than strict obedience to the rules. Artitstic impulse has a tendency to do that. I’m fairly certain I would have been burned at the stake just a few short centuries ago for just such an action. But then, liberty hard won, must always be engaged in long after the fact. We women do love red shoes for what they symbolize.

    Elizabeth

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  3. Ah ‘Lizbeth, do you own a pair of red shoes? Is there a metaphor in the red shoes for living a life well and then coming back to earth and the responsibilities of maturity. Naah, let’s just say that the dead woman spread her choices of dreams to anyone that would accept her the way she is, the way she dreamed. Well that’s my take. Thanks for a valiant effort using a complicated poetic form. I like your work. Merry Christmas.
    Regards,
    Don

    Like

  4. Linda says:

    I loved how your lines carried themselves—a metaphor for the red shoes.

    Thank you Linda. Red is the the color of passion, and energy. Much of Women’s History can be found hidden in the fairytales that constantly warned us against engaging in just such passion. Shoes cover the feet, allow a much surer step. The metaphor of the red shoes carries a deep, deep lesson about the ability to follow ones own inner leadings rather than sleeping through life and half of ones existence by adhering to rules and sanctions meant to keep us in our proper place, which was not even a place other than what was allowed, or defined by another.

    Elizabeth

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  5. I own a pair of red shoes. And the days I put that pair, I feel on the top of the world. In my drab days, I make sure I wear those. Your poetry really touched based with me.

    dead man and his shoe painting

    Thank you Gautami. I will now see you wearing them. I wore red shoes to my youngest daughter’s wedding where I read an original poem that took the place of a sermon. It was all about the wing waltz that eagles do when they mate for life. The space that each of the two need to be their own individual person, yet stay close enough to support and encourage one another, keeping that space sacred.

    Elizabeth

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  6. hedgewitch says:

    A nice march, or should I say dance? of images, and of a search that doesn’t seem to have much to do with death except perhaps to acknowledge it and move on. That’s fine with me, because I don’t think dead women dance as lightly as the red-shoe-ed one you’ve created here.

    Lol, hedgewitch. It was meant to be a dance of words that celebrates the freedom to be ones own person. We women seldom find that until we have first met the obligations of society’s rules about our deportment and definition of what we can be and do. Which means that a huge piece of our individual being is kept asleep for half of our existence. The red shoes come from the story of Sleeping Beauty, the original version. I love the quote by Maxine Kumin who said, “It’s good to remember that Sleeping Beauty was over fifty years old, when she finally woke up.” Kinda sad to realize how true that is for so many of us. Thanks for stopping and leaving your comments,

    Elizabeth

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  7. pamela says:

    Elizabeth,
    This reminds me of the movie and the story of “the red shoes”. I love your use of metaphors here.
    A fabulous write.
    Pamela

    Pamela, thank you for your generous words. It is more than a bit difficult to convey the sense of the red shoes and their impact, over time, on the History of all women, in one brief poem. But, I at least wanted to try. Glad you enjoyed my effort,

    Elizabeth

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  8. “Wanted only
    to click heels in whatever fields of grain,
    she might fallow.”

    This is a lovely image of action.

    Thank you Donna, I was hoping to convey the difficulty of even walking through a field in such apparrel, as well as trying to be what is expected, while knowing one must leave certain fields fallow while trying to meet the demands of a society that views one as less than, other, and for many centuries, not even possessing a soul. She tried, our anscestress, she really tried.

    Elizabeth

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  9. Catherine says:

    You have some lovely internal rhyme here. I was especially taken with the woman being buried in the spit of land that wanted to reach the sea but never quite made it.

    Thank you Catherine. That particular line was very important to me, and I obviously hit it hard with the repetitive sounds. Water, especially the sea, is a Universal symbol of all of life and living. She is buried in centuries of sand by a ruling elite that never really wanted her to flourish other than as what it (he) had defined her as, his possession, his chattel. There is a definite reason for her fixation on the red shoes that promise she might dance, some day, to her own chosen definitions. But, she must first grow into those definitions. Words are not enough, actions must come to balance them. Dreams and wishes are never enough. They need well thought out actions and repeated nurture to bring them to fulfillment.

    Elizabeth

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  10. Love your imagery and the whole idead behind this. You’ve taken what can be a most obscure form and made sense of it. Kudos.

    Thank you liv2write2day (I love your ID). There are those obviously, who would disagree with your statement. Women’s History was a great backdrop to my History degree in college. I had no real idea what I wanted to write about when I began this poem, but it certainly came clear once I started, lol. And the Fairytales that are so much a part of our silent education has even more to do with that. They swiftly become the archetypes we reach for in the midst of our decision making process. On some levels, I personally believe that the red shoes are a symbol of the soul, and the very essence of our individuation process. That should never be a willy-nilly process, or one borrowed from others, but a well thought out and constantly nurtured reality. Thanks again, for your comments,

    Elizabeth

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  11. Tumblewords says:

    Red shoes are never the easiest but can surely offer the most, in the long haul. I love the look at women’s work and the metaphorical visions you’ve presented.

    Tumblewords, I so agree with you. But there is also a lesson to be learned from the original version of the story. The ‘wicked’ woman who finally wore them, was danced non-stop to her death. Some dreams and wishes should remain just dreams and wishes. In the process of sorting this from that, we hopefully will discern which are which and choose wisely. Dancing with the red shoes, finding our individual bliss, is never an easy task, and is forever a struggle to be engaged in,

    Elizabeth

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  12. Mary says:

    But I don’t WANT to let go of red shoes. I still want to dance, and in the distance I think I DO see Mr. Bojangles.

    Well written poem, Elizabeth. Sad though. Planting dreams, then watching them die. But the end looks forward with feeding more dreams, beginning again.

    Oh Mary, so do I. But, my reality tells me that dancing with words might be the only way I can do that, now. And I did actually see Mr. Bojangles. Saw Sammy Davis Jr. when I was still in my twenties. Waited through the entire concert because I knew that he did that at the end of every one of his performances. Before writing this, I went to YouTube and watched him do it again. It still remains one of my favorites. And did you know that he hated that song because he feared it would become his reality? That he would become no more than a broken down old drunk dancing for tips and beers.

    I don’t so much see sadness in this poem, but rather process and promise. I sincerely believe that finding our bliss is finding our soul and nurturing it. I also think that might be the one task we each must engage in, our life task. If it were easy, not a day to day process, life would be very short and not hold much meaning. Sorting this from that is one task worth engaging in, and it helps us to grow and flourish. Thanks as always for taking your time to read and comment.

    Hugs to you my friend,
    Elizabeth

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  13. So beautifully said, a truly inspired write. I know this lady, and her red shoes. This is truly a universal poem! Thanks

    I want to read the poem, you read at your Daughter’s wedding.

    Oh Annell, thank you for your very wise words yesterday. Am wondering if I should go back and try to do it in the stricter form. Think that might mess it up too much. And yes, I think it does have some sense of the Universal within it. I do still have a copy of that poem, it is titled “Wing Waltz.” I’ll see if I can pull it up and send it to you. Thank you, as always for your support and encouragement. And thank you for including me in your project,

    Elizabeth

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  14. Again so beautifully said, you’re a witch, an angel, and a wizard! I know you are listening to your heart! Which beats so loud, I think I can almost hear it! Thank you for this beautiful write!

    Lol, Annell, I love what you write, it is music to this old woman’s heart. That might be what you are hearing: counterpart harmony. And thank you for all of your kindness and understanding,

    Elizabeth

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  15. Soooooo great that you gave her red shoes!

    Carolee, thank you for the prompt. It was difficult, but intriguing. And as par for the course, I let it take me where it would and got a bit of a surprise in the doing. I have ever been a person who follows the spirit of the law, not its letter. And will definitely go back and try to adhere more closely to the actual poetic form you shared with us. This poem called for a bit of a sidestep, lol, but am still glad that I did it.

    Elizabeth

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  16. brenda w says:

    This is lovely. Your masterful use of language creates lush images. Dorothy kept popping up for me. The image of toes in soil gave me a hankering for summer.

    Hello Brenda, and thanks for the comments. I know what you mean. Dorothy also popped into my head, but the red shoes story and symbolism are far older and richer with history and meaning. I used to do a lot of gardening and I am a bare foot person, lol. Always have been,

    Elizabeth

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  17. Beautifully done! You did a MUCH better job with the prompt idea than I did…

    Thanks Cynthia, but this one was more play than work. I didn’t stick with the rules of the form, but I still really liked what happened,

    Elizabeth

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  18. nan says:

    Very nice. I related to these words, and any poem that has the word “feckless” in it, used with ease, gets high marks in my book.

    Lol, Nan, I had to go look it up, just to make sure it was the right word, with the correct meaning, after it popped into my head. Reader/writer’s nightmare, dancing through the words in red stilleto’s, trying to always look graceful! Maybe I’ll buy some red sneakers next time.

    Elizabeth

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  19. You know artists, have a hard time following the rules. That is why they are called artists, they always have their own ideas, as you do.

    Lol, but it also means we are constantly wondering if anyone can really understand our thought processes. Good thing some of them can.

    High Five, my friend,

    Elizabeth

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  20. vivinfrance says:

    I already commented properly, but after reading all the comment about red shoes, I felt inclined to lower the tone a bit. When I was 15 I had my first pair of court shoes, with a modest 2″ heel. They were red, and the love of my life at the time. But Mum kept saying “red shoes, no knickers” until I could have committed murder! I was very prudish in those days.

    Not prudish, just fighting the battle of a mindset. I can still remember the look on my Mother’s face the first time I came home with a pair of 4inch spikes. And they weren’t even red, lol. But, oh how I loved those shoes and the way they made me feel. I think part of that feeling was the excitement of going up against that mindset of what proper young women should or shouldn’t do. Now I look at my fourteen year old granddaughter and know she has so much more knowledge than I ever had. And that’s a good thing.

    Elizabeth

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  21. wayne says:

    you have done a great job with this form…..thanks for sharing

    Thank you Wayne, I appreciate your words,

    Elizabeth

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  22. Deb says:

    Mmm. Red shoes. I’ll admit to having a pair I won’t give up!

    OH Deb, I hung onto mine as long as I could. There really is something delicious about them, isn’t there?

    Elizabeth

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  23. Superb interpretation of the prompt… and I love the sound devices, the bits of rhyme and alliteration that creep in throughout the poem. The end of the first half is pure magic.

    Thank you very much Joseph. But, superb? I think there were some far better examples of the form in much of what I have read. I knew I was not keeping to the strict guidelines that were set out. But this poem wanted to dance and play, so I let it. But, I’ll put the superb in my kudo box, and keep it. Thanks again,

    Elizabeth

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  24. Tilly Bud says:

    A wonderful poem, Elizabeth. I like the fallow/shallow/callow rhyme and the image of planting dreams like kisses, in particular.

    Thank you Tilly Bud, and am glad you enjoyed it. There are always those mothers who have dreams that never left the ground and so, encourage or push their children to fulfill what they did not. My Mother started painting at age sixty, so I knew it was never too late to begin.

    Elizabeth

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  25. James says:

    I like this. All those wonderful rhymes. This poem sounds great. And I love the ending with the dead woman realizing her feet must be planted in the soil.

    Thank you James. I think my dead woman has a bit of a restless spirit, but eventually finds what is important. I like the rhymes as well, but didn’t strictly follow the form as it was explained. However, I did do another that does that and have found a liking for the form that surprised me. Really didn’t think that I would, but the form itself leads one in unexpected ways. And I like that a lot. Really enjoyed your road song/road trip piece, it had a delicious level of meat on its bones.

    Elizabeth

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  26. “actually do daily toil of filling her dreams by beginning again.” Profoundly wise……awesome, Elizabeth!

    Sherry, thank you for the awesome, that goes in the kudo box. I think the red shoes are an invitation to truly explore our dreams and what we truly can do and be. But, they can also be a tease to live our lives frivolously never realizing that only we, ourselves, can fulfill those dreams. The ‘profoundly wise’ might be another matter, lol. I did write another “Dead Women Poem” and that one is far more to form and thus more profound than I expected. It’s at my Intuitive Paths site
    http://intuitivepaths.wordpress.com/
    I’d really like to hear what you think of that one,

    Elizabeth

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  27. Elizabeth, would you please email me at sherrym2@shaw.ca ?
    Thanks, kiddo!

    Sherry, it’s done,

    Elizabeth

    Like

  28. neil reid says:

    Ooo… traveling back in time, Christmas yet to come!

    I like this poem too (the first of your two), and red shoes… what can I say! I’ve a thing for red, although I’d seldom dare myself, but in a poem, all rules are off. Got other things to write, however this one now tugs on me and I appreciate this breath of inspired thought, even one idea (if I dare!) from your poem here. Thank you Elizabeth.

    Neil, you are welcome to dare at any time, lol. I just finished reading your last four. Wow! Separately they are a joy to read, together, they are incredible. And red is not a color I can wear often, but the red shoes story is a classic filled with so many meanings and possibilities. Hope you are finally on the mend, your poetry sure seems to say so.

    Elizabeth

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  29. Pingback: About The Dead Woman and The Dream of Red Shoes « Soul's Music

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