The Lonely Shoe

   In a dusty corner of a charity shop
Under a cushion and behind a mop
Beside a picture of the Eiffel Tower
And a snapped-off head from a broken shower
There lay a shoe, bereft of mate
Abandoned to an unknown fate
A pointless thing for want of pair
Ignored by all who shopped in there

Its withered tongue did flail and flop
Beneath the laces' tangled knot
Its leather upper stained and worn
And scuffed in parts and slightly torn
A tiny dimple in the toe
From being trod on, years ago
Was once the only way to tell
It from the one it knew so well

It's other half, now lost and gone
Was once this poor shoe's dear loved one
No other footwear could replace
It's partner's tender soul or lace
A mirror image, now bereft
The shoe was right, but who was left?
So cruelly parted years before
Inhabiting some other floor

And from that dark and lonely place
The shoe recalled the sweet embrace
Of Left Shoe's tender leather skin
Inside the box they once lived in
Those days spent happy on a shelf
Inside a shop for those of wealth
Until the day from off the street
A man walked in on two fine feet

Feet with shoes now old and tatty
Matching not his suit, quite natty
His wife had nagged both night and day
"Those shoes are scuffed – throw them away!
You can't walk round in shoes like that –
They look like they've been chewed by rats!
You need to buy some more of course
It's either that or a divorce."

And so the man came to the shop
Before his marriage came a-crop
"I'd like some shoes." He calmly stated
Then he sat and quietly waited
The shoe assistants rallied round
So many pairs of shoes were found
Red ones, blue ones, ones with laces
Ones with flashing lights and faces

Ones with stripes that looked quite blatant
Shiny ones with leather patent
Cuban heels and winkle pickers
Boring ones more suiting vicars
Brogues and flip-flops, mules and boots
Ones for jeans and ones for suits
Some were black and some were brown
Some were huge, made for a clown

A hundred pairs or more, he tried
Some of slim fit, others wide
But none of them felt right somehow
"I'm afraid the shop is closing now."
The assistant said, at five o'clock
With shoes strewn all around the shop
Six hours had passed and nothing bought
The man was feeling most distraught

"You can't close now. I'd lose my wife!
She'll leave me, and destroy my life
If I don't get new shoes on my feet
I'll soon be thrown out. On the street!
Oh please, I beg you. One more pair!
I'm sure you must have more through there?
Just let me please have one more try
I don't want to be a single guy."

The assistant sighed, "There are no more!
You've tried on every pair, I'm sure
Look! The shelves are clear, cleaned out
There simply are no shoes about
The shoes are scattered here and there
Upon your feet they've all had wear
I cannot help. You must leave please!
Oh. Wait a minute... what are these...

He reached as far as his arm could
Across a shelf made out of wood
And at the back, he found a box
With shoes inside, not pants or socks
"There's one last pair, then we must stop
And you must leave my footwear shop."
He removed the lid and beamed with pride
Upon the shoes that lay inside

The man's thin face it beamed with gladness
Erasing every inch of sadness
"Well bless my rotting, flapping sole –
I think, at last, we're on a roll!
These shoes are perfect, just the job
I'll take them please. Here's 50 bob."
The shop assistant gave a sigh
Relieved to be shot of this guy

He put them on his slender feet
Then wandered out into the street
The leather was so soft and fine
He thought, "I'm glad these shoes are mine.
Of all the shoes I've ever worn
These are the best – I feel reborn!"
And feeling happy with his life
He went back home to see his wife

And oh, his wife was most delighted
For too long had her life been blighted
Walking round with her dear heart
20 steps at least apart
Ashamed of what was on his feet
Sometimes she'd even cross the street
But now she proudly took his arm
His shoes made her feel strangely calm

And so the shoes began their life
Approved by both the man and wife
Their squashy soles and ropey laces
Put a smile upon their faces
Each step that the man now trod
Was comfy now he'd been well shod
Oh what a lovely way to be
Betrothed to feet that worship thee

The shoes themselves were full of bliss
What better life was there than this?
Too long they'd spent stuck in a box
Now they walked beneath some socks
A paradise! A place sublime!
A perfect moment in their time
No thought of future, or of past
They did not know this could not last

And after each new thrilling day
The man would put the shoes away
Upon a rack of finest pine
They'd snuggle up and sleep just fine
Some slippers did the night shift well
Until the morning's alarm bell
Then up they'd get and set to work
Upon the pedals of a Merc

Many happy months went past
The shoes had fun, life was a blast
So happy with their life together
A married couple, made of leather
They knew deep in their laced-up heart
They couldn't bear to be apart
And day by day, and night by night
They were as one, and all was right

But one day after quite a while
The man's wife, one morning, did not smile
Her usually sunny disposition
Faded quite suddenly in the kitchen
She dished up eggs, like every morn
But this time with a look of scorn
And as she poured out shredded wheat
She cast her eyes upon his feet

"My dear, your shoes are rather tatty
You know these things can make me ratty
I like your shoes to look all neat
Not like stale rags upon your feet
You must go today and get some more
Or I'll be showing you the door
My rage will hit you with full force
And I'll be wanting a divorce!"

The poor man sighed and cast his eyes
Upon the point beneath his thighs
She had a point, the shoes looked scruffy
And she was prone to get quite huffy
"Alright dear," he flatly sighed
"In my shoes, I know, I should take pride
These ones are clearly for the chop
I'll go today to a shoe shop."

The poor shoes quivered in distress
Sure, they knew they looked a mess
But they thought love would keep them safe
Despite the odd slight scuff or scafe
And now it seemed quite possible
That they were just disposable
They were not loved, they sadly mused
They realised they'd just been used

And so the sad day came around
The man some new shoes he soon found
And the once-fine pair were cast aside
Into the wheelie bin outside
Among the debris and the gunk
Discarded like some common junk
They whimpered deep inside the bin
Oh what a mess those shoes were in!

But what was this – a chink of light
The bin lid lifted – what a sight!
An unwashed man with matted hair
And whisky breath was standing there
He swayed around then from the bin
He pulled out the shoes and gave a grin
And as he drank his final dreg
He glanced down at his... oh dear... one leg...

He pulled his grubby stinking boot
From off his one remaining foot
Then put the right shoe in its place
With a hairy grimace on his face
He looked down at the other shoe
Not needed... hmm... what should he do?
He felt his heart begin to harden
And lobbed it into next door's garden

And with his brand new acquisition
He hopped away with great precision
(Considering his drunken state
He kept a fairly upright gait)
He took his greasy bearded stench
Towards his home – an old park bench
And as it started getting light
He put his foot up for the night

The shoe it wept both night and day
Now wrapped around such gross decay
A foot unwashed for months, or years
Untouched by soap, uncleansed by tears
Oh what a sad and dreadful fate
To live upon a foot you hate
A stinking foot all black and smelly
More suited to a common welly

Each morning when the sun rose up
The tramp fished out his begging cup
And hopped towards the town to try
To extract cash from passers-by
And with each pound the guilty gave
This poor man's hunger for to stave
He just bought cider, meths or sherry
And swayed like he was on a ferry

The shoe is tilted, lurched and heaved
Upon that foot which dragged and weaved
Across the filthy, rat-strewn street
In search of drink and stuff to eat
And soon it was quite black with grime
And scuffed and battered, stained with slime
Its sole was worn, its laces thin
It wished it had stayed in that bin

And every second of every hour
Whilst passing litter, bird of flower
It thought about the other shoe
And wondered what it was to do
Last seen in mid-flight over fence
Going forth to who-knows-whence
Abandoned to an unknown fate
He missed his symmetrical mate

Hours seem more like days, or weeks
When stuck upon a foot that reeks
The shoe was gloomy and downcast
It dreamed of joyful days gone past
Now each day was a living hell
Destroyed by hopping, rats and smell
Until one day, quite unexpected –
His life was suddenly resurrected

Whilst searching through some stinking bin
The tramp had come across something
A steel-toe boot all smart and new
He had no use now for the shoe
He took it off and walked away
Abandoning it to decay
Or being stood on by some nutter
Unwisely walking in the gutter

But no, no nutter came that day
The sun came out and all was gay
Passers-by did laugh and smile
And all was lovely for a while
The shoe felt warmed and much relieved
Still sickly air no longer breathed
He considered giving up on feet
But wait, who's this coming down the street?

Mrs Bagshaw, 87
Was off to see her niece in Devon
She'd packed her suitcase nice and neat
It perched beside her aged feet
As she waited for her cab
In slipper things all brown and drab
To take her to the railway station
She saw the shoe and felt elation

"A shoe! A shoe! A lovely shoe!
Oh deary me, oh what to do?
Why does it lie alone like that?
I think I'll have it for my cat!
My cat likes shoes, and birds and mice
Oh yes this shoe it would find nice!"
She glanced around, was quite alone
So she grabbed the shoe and headed home

"Sod my niece, my train and stuff
I've found a shoe! That's quite enough
A lovely shoe, a shoe so fine
I can't believe this shoe is mine!"
She wittered on, immersed in gladness
Quite unaware of her own madness
She turned her key, opened the door
And dropped the shoe upon the floor

A great big tabby cat appeared
The shoe thought, "This is getting weird
For I am footwear, not a toy
For someone's pussy to enjoy!"
The cat, however, didn't care
It stuck its nose up in the air
Then wandered off in search of food
The shoe thought that was rather rude

"Never mind," the granny said
"You can belong to me instead.
Tiddles doesn't want to play
But I love shoes, so please do stay
Since Ernie died in ‘92
I don't have all that much to do
Apart from cat, and niece in Devon
There's not much keeping me from Heaven."

She placed the shoe upon a chair
Admired it as it lingered there
Oh what a handsome thing, thought she
Like her, it smelled vaguely of wee
And in parts had got a wee bit squashed
And could really use a thorough wash
It was obviously made of finest leather
She thought, trying to feed it a feather

And oh, life for the shoe from then
Was much improved except for when
She tried to feed it random stuff
Like glue on toast or carpet fluff
A biro or a pair of dentures
(sadly, she had bad dementia)
She talked to it all day and night
A shoe. It's true
Her mind weren't right

So life passed by in this odd way
Until one sad and frightful day
The granny didn't feel her best
And suddenly she clutched her chest
And fell upon the deep shag floor
Never to get up no more
Until some policemen came by, fortunately
And removed her to the local mortuary

And so the poor shoe sat in wait
To discover its next twist of fate
No 3-bar heater kept it warm
The house was cold, it felt forlorn
Some council workers came and cleared
The house of junk, and just as feared
The shoe was tossed into a box
With a set of rollers and some socks

The box was placed into a van
Which drove the shoe far from the gran
And when at last the van did stop
It found itself inside a shop
A lady with a slight moustache
Fished out the shoe and gave a laugh
"A single shoe! We can't sell that!
It's dirty and it smells of cat."

And so we're back to where we started
The shoe lay there, quite broken hearted
As shoppers came and passed him by
A little tear was in its eye
(although this was quite hard to do
Because it was, of course a shoe
And shoes can't shed tears, to be fair
But come on let us not split hair)

Now weeks and months and years went past
Each one no different from the last
The shoe lay sadly on the ground
And hoped one day it might be found
That its other half might come to Scope
Unlikely, but a shoe can hope
Oh what fate befell that other shoe?
It really really wished it knew

Then something happened that was weird
A man came in with a long white beard
His clothes were worn, his feet were weary
His eyes were far-away and teary
His wet feet stank in sodden socks
And in his hand it held... a box
A wooden box with a rusty clasp
He spied the shoe, and gave a gasp...

"I wish to buy that shoe," he said
The shop assistant shook her head
"But it has no pair, it is but one
It is quite useless! Now run along!"
But the man was really quite insistent
He fixed his gaze on the assistant
"Please sell to me that lonely shoe!
I'll show you something if you do!"

And so she charged him two pounds fifty,
For, although confused, she was still thrifty
The bearded man was so delighted
His wizened face became a-lighted
He set the box out on a table
Said "Now look, while you are able.
Inside this little box of wood
There lies something... it's rather good...

And there inside the wooden box
There lay a shoe, devoid of socks
The missing shoe, once tossed aside
Over a fence, oh how we cried
Until a wizard, just in socks
Placed it in a wooden box
And swore to find its mate, and lo –
He did. It took him ages though

Now up a hill the wizard flew
The box now holding both the shoes
He took them to a hidden cave
And sat upon the floor, quite brave
And many travellers came and went
The wizard grew all old and bent
And no man, horse, badger or fox
Knew what lay in that wooden box

Some shoes.

Were in there.


No socks.

Kate - February 2012

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