My Poor Feet


This was written as part of the Winter Writing Sanctuary . The course consists of a ‘Daily Spark’ in which Beth reads some poetry aloud, and then a writing prompt. This day’s prompt was to stand in the garden in bare feet.

The Daily Spark – new plan. I’m listening to the daily spark with my first cup of tea, in the dark, under a blanket, the dog’s head resting on my leg. My safe space. I’ve listened to it twice because the first time the dog spied a squirrel and suddenly demanded action.

I’ve been distracted by Youtube. I’m listening to Seamus Heaney talk about potatoes and I remember how much I love being read to, and how no-one ever does. Now I’m listening to Katherine Hepburn read a letter to Spencer Tracy, and I must stop before I’m lost to my own squirrels.

To the task. I have to stand outside? What, now? Barefoot? Well I can’t do it now because everyone will be down for breakfast in about three minutes and I think that will spoil the mood. When I walk the dog? No, someone will stumble across the mad woman in the woods and think I’ve finally lost it, or the dog will run off when I’ve only got one boot on. Or both. At work then? No, same problem but worse.

I’ll have a shower then squeeze in a quick two minutes in the garden while Jon is upstairs. The shower is gloriously hot and my feet are not objecting in the slightest to this smooth warm plastic. This is a sensible way to start the day. No, barefoot it is. Virginia Woolf would not stay in the shower, but then look what happened to her. I must find new role models.

I’m dressed. Jon has inexplicably decided now is the time to oil the worktop, whilst simultaneously complaining he’s late. I think he’s still upset about the colander. I sense I should not tell him he needs to hurry up so I can root myself in the garden.

Muppet socks off. They are Fred’s socks, but that’s not weird because he knew when I bought them that I fully intended to share them. Our socks.It’s really cold, maybe I should have done this later.I’ve left my phone indoors. I’ll go back because I probably should put this on Instagram or at least in the Facebook Group. But then people will see my feet, my hideously ugly feet. We’re being vulnerable, it’s fine. Photograph the feet.I’ve gone with the grass. That pile of leaves looks warmer but who knows what the dog has left in there. Not in the middle of the lawn, that feels too exposed; under this tree feels safer.

Tadasana – mountain pose

Although not quite, because the patch of grass I’ve chosen is lumpy. The thick roots of this old tree have bubbled up and tilted me off balance. I should move, but I won’t.

I’m here.

Slowly I can feel my feet as the chill works its way across and up.

My poor feet.

These unloved, misshapen feet. These broken bones that have healed, although still ache in the cold. The strangely long toes which are just like my father’s, and the hard calloused skin which will never be worn away because I was given my Gran’s habit of always being barefoot. My toe nails, half of them rotten, and all of them uncut because no-one ever puts the bloody nail clippers back.

My poor feet.

These feet that have carried me all this time, and have kept me standing. These feet that have paced 3am floorboards and hospital corridors. These feet that have absorbed all of the impact of loss and broken souls, all of the ugliness, drawn it all down and held it for me.

No one who has truly lived can have pretty feet.

The chill feels cleaner, the prickle of life seeping back into them. I feel stronger.

My mountain pose.

I suddenly realise I have no idea how long I have been standing here. The traffic rumbles on and the dog is hiding all his toys under a nearby bush.

Just a few minutes more.

Just a few more breaths.

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