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Saddle Shoes

A poem

Published on:
November 23, 2020
Read time:
2 min.
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I wore a blue corduroy jumper
Scuffed saddle shoes
Falling down ankle socks
Day-of-the-week underwear—was it Monday?
And an innocent smile
When I first met sex

Five years young
Wide minded
Narrow worlded
Trusting strong
In an untrustworthy neighborhood
My heart beat pure

Until that day
Those days
Those weeks
Those months
That year
When two stronger-than-me wolves bloodied their prey

The hemlocks above the ravine
Where rape flourished
Swayed their arms
But not in embrace
I begged rescue
Instead, they swallowed my scream

One year I had “sex”
Two kindergarten semesters
Of brutality and silence
“We are moving,” Mom said.
Three words that ushered
Salvation from wolves

Nevertheless the howling persisted
Screamed, really
Every walk to my new school
Every glance behind me
Every footfall upon the attic stairs
They remained

For the first day of third grade
Mom bought me Famolare shoes
The wedged soles
Could not unwedge bully memories
I kept walking anyway
Met my teacher, smiled for pictures

Just as I had shoved
Sullied undergarments into wastebaskets
I buried that kindergartener
Told her to hush already
That was then
Today is a new day

Dreams of iron-booted monsters
Reminded me of this futility
Always pursuing me barefooted in brambles
Heart pounding
Panic erupting
Sweating my bed

I wore Nike sneakers
White with a red swoosh
On the night of my first kiss
The Nikes sprinted me to safety
I scribbled a break up note
Slipped it into his PeeChee

Was I wearing waffle stompers the day Jesus met me
Under the canopy of evergreens?
The stars boasted their halleluiahs
While bent soul, harassed heart
Grasped for rescue
As tears washed me, dotting the sodden earth

The story of saddle shoes
Burst from me then
As if it had been plotting to erupt
All those years
My chest wearied from
Caging such unwieldy trauma

Birks shod my feet college’s first day
Prayer tethered me
To nubile hope
Though I could still taste the forest floor
From my woodland haunt
Defiant, I declared myself well

I wore white satin flats
On the day of I do
But in the echoing cathedral
A howling chorused
Threatening to muddy
That pure, white gown

I incanted redemptive words
Over myself
That was then, right?
Jesus cleansed me, didn’t he?
Removing wolves
As far as east and west?

My first experience
With sex
Began in the forest
Near a Puget Sound beach head
The air, salt-watered
When I wore second-hand saddle shoes

My second?
Snoqualmie Falls Lodge
Near evergreens
Flanking thundering cascades
Woods and water and trauma intermingling
While white satin shoes lay toppled in the room’s corner

Mary DeMuth
Mary DeMuth is an international speaker and podcaster, and she’s the novelist and nonfiction author of thirty-nine books, including the latest: We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Harvest House Publishers 2019). She loves to help people re-story their lives. She lives in Texas with her husband of 29 years and is the mom to three adult children. Find out more at marydemuth.com, or be prayed for on her daily prayer podcast prayeveryday.show. For sexual abuse resources, visit wetoo.org.

Cover image by Jan Padilla

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