My shoes are rotten on the inside from the rain.
The dark shined grooves the toes made
and the divot curved into the once-thick foam heal
and the possum body
left dad on the summermoon street
when I pull my feet from my shoes.
Two days on the bus San Francisco to Des Moines
listening to my feet crackle and burn,
whispering temptation into my busdrone ears,
praying and screaming "air," cajoling "air,"
while I stare out the window through Nebraska's rain,
coming on for hundreds of miles - darker and darker -
strips of grey from heaven to wheatearth
(and the gasps of the passengers from back east
when the balls of hail begin clattering the bus sides,
covering the highway in crushed white marble.)
My feet burn to be free
listening to the hail jump ecstatic off the road.
Free from the rot leather and rubber gone bad
in the Oregon rain.
I may be discovered here on the bus
by the woman who dangled her bare feet in the aisle
reading Danielle Steel
when the just of cragrock behind her
turned away from the sun
as we rounded a bend in the road above Salt Lake.
How can she do that? Is she my demon?
And the vultures with their turkey red faces
fly dangerously close to the bus
tempted down by the invisible strings that bind them
to the rot of the earth.
I can see an invisible string from their beaks to my feet!
If I take them off I'll be discovered.
The last man who owns only one pair of shoes.
Sneaking along the streets in the rain with only one pair,
sneaking onto this bus with sacrilegious odor.
BUT I AM GUILTY OF NOTHING!
Beneath these shoes my feet are the same as anyone's!
I declare all feet on this bus must be free!
FREE THE FEET! FREE MY FEET!
In Ogallala the passengers pile out at a rest stop.
One by one, weary, hairtousled, mugmouthed,
getting out to wash and purify themselves
and I think, "This is it, time for the revolution to begin!"
Let the air on this bus circulate the truth!
Let it circulate the smell of no job!
Let it circulate the funk of the one-pair-of-shoes-man!
But I can't do it.
I must realize my higher calling.
I must turn my back on utopia.
I must turn back from enlightenment.
I must return forever on this bus
for I am the bodhisattva who saves the people on this bus
from the smell of my feet
vowing not to take off my shoes
until all other feet have attained
- Christien Gholson