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--- Poetry
Reminiscence
Feet
A Cento for Poe

Feet

I cleaned my daughter’s feet.
I swept the warm cloth along
her soft, Earth toned skin — she grinned
and said, “Mom, that feels Heavenly.”

Yes, I remember.

Lying on the bed like a doll filled with sand
too fatigued to move — I played hard that day.
Slightly waking to feel the warm cloth on my feet.
Mother washing the day’s dirt away.

Yes, that felt Heavenly.

My friends told me their mothers would say
we should always take care
to wear clean underwear
in case we came upon disaster.

“Clean feet are most important”, my mother said.

She explained that a woman’s feet
told the story of her life.
That on her soles you could see
the roads she traveled.

She would say, “You can measure her resilience in a woman’s ankles”

I was told that if I were to get into an accident,
dressed like a bum,
and the doctors saw I had clean feet,
they would take good care of me.

“I know that may sound silly to you”, she’d say

She explained they would know that I tried
my best to take care of myself
and that my dress was more
a matter of circumstance than of desire.

When I was too tired for an evening bath, she washed my feet.
When I was sick in bed, she washed my feet.
When we were homeless, she washed my feet.
When she felt there was nothing else to do, she washed my feet.

Yes, it felt Heavenly.

I tried out for the high school track team.
I went in for a physical.
The doctor examined my feet
and said, “Nice feet,” and approved me as healthy.

He never asked me if I had on clean underwear.

I wondered how many kids
would miss out on running track
because their feet weren’t as clean as mine?
And I thought she was being silly.

She was right.

I finally saw her.
And there she was.
Too tired to move.
Dying.

I filled the bowl with warm water.
I found a soft cloth.
Picked up the soap. Ivory pure.
The only type she would use.

I looked at her feet — so long and thin.
Dark as Louisiana clay.
Her veins stuck up like river lines.
A road map to the Bayou.

I washed her feet.
Her feet carried heavy burdens.
She walked many miles for many years.
She said, “That feels Heavenly.”

I replied, “Yes, I remember.”

— Katerina Canyon