The Red Shoe Book Project by Annell Livingston
The dead woman didn’t like the darkness, wanted color.
She thought about red shoes.
Thought she could use them to move with ease from here
to there, go anywhere she might please
(she was restless, filled with feckless ideas).
The dead woman knew she was dead, of course.
Wanted only to dig toes in whatever fields she might fallow,
callow of meaning, buried in shallow sand on narrow spit
of land that pointed to the sea,
but never quite reached it.
The dead woman thought because she was dead,
she could dance like Mr. Bojangles, clicking
her heels to impossible heights, alighting
back home with mere flick of boney ankles.
She planted dreams, like kisses, on cheeks of small children,
thought they would bloom, fill rooms
with sweet fragrance.
Then had to watch them perish, 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.
The dead woman sighed, she had so much time to fill.
Knew she must release illusive red shoes.
Must plant bare feet in rich moist soil, actually do toil
of feeding her dreams, nurture them daily,
bringing each one to its own fruition.
The dead woman knew she must begin again.
More About The Dead Woman and Her Dream of Red Shoes
The dead woman couldn’t see her feet, of course.
She couldn’t feel them either.
So, she dreamed of dancing in red shoes, through eternity.
She dreamed of dancing with a pauper, a prince, and a political
appointee, a chef, a truck driver, an accountant,
a research biologist, and a university professor.
But, none of them noticed because she was a dead woman.
The dead woman laughed, she sang, she threw herself
into the dance. She moved.
She knew she was no more than a fleeting whisper, momentary
vapor, a slip of air to be brushed aside with flick
of a finger, a shake of the head.
The dead woman went right on dancing, trying to be whatever
She so wanted to be more than invisible, more than dead.
The dead woman dreamed through eternity and into the next,
always dancing in red shoes.
The color excited her, spoke of passion, pursuit, put-off prolonged
dreams seeking fulfillment.
She dreamed of sneakers, velvet slippers, flats and strappy
stilettos, died leather moccasins, and hard vinyl crocs,
all of them red: red like blood, like living.
The dead woman dreamed that all women everywhere wore
red shoes: maids to matriarchs, dancing their dreams
She dreamed through two eternities, until the Universe was filled
with laughing women, all moving toward individual
dreams in red shoes.
Satisfied with her creation, the dead woman rested.
Elizabeth Crawford – for the Red Shoe Book Project.**
**This is part of The Red Shoe Book Project, an artist’s vision conceived by Annell Livingston. She generously asked several of us to write poems to be included in her project. Mine is above and is the result of two different poems combined in the form of Dead Man Poetry created by Marvin Bell
As Annell has explained, “I got the idea for The Red Shoe Book Project from the book, The Madwoman in the Attic. It has quite a bit about the symbol of the red shoes and the creativity of women. As I began to discuss red shoes with women, I realized that so many do not know the meaning behind them…so it seemed the perfect project.
I am very pleased because the writings I have received are all so different. Thus as I had hoped, it will be a jewel with many facets. There are two ideas behind artists books. One is that they be very inexpensive, and democratic, and the other is the idea to make it precious. And the Red Shoe Book Project will be both. ”
Thank you Annell, for the invitation and the opportunity to write about a subject dear to my heart: Women’s History.