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Krista's Feet

by Donna Kennedy

i save rose petals to throw
into the grand canyon on her birthday.
they're dry by february
those petals once as smooth & soft
as the baby feet i used to kiss.
pink rosebud toes
tiny delicate feet
growing, growing.
new shoes always.
wouldn't wear
the brown sandals,
wanted white ones.
she showed me.
brown sandals floated
out to sea in mexico.
little feet padding through the house
little feet growing bigger,
thumping thru the house.
feet in tap shoes
dancing on the wall
like donald o'conner
in singin in the rain.
feet calloused in ballet
breaking her toe
& moving those feet
to jazz & finally
barefoot dancing
in the grass, on stage.
she danced it all,
mostly humor,
always true.
always funny, somewhere:
life of the iguana,
3 cigarettes in an ashtray
her patsy cline fluff.
dancing en pointe
at her wedding
to bring a smile
to our faces.
she misread
her audience
that time.
everybody cried.
i taught her to jump in
feet first
& she did that.
she'd take a risk
but she was rooted.
did wisdom flow from the earth
through her feet?
her feet were beautiful
pointing, angling
never held her down.
they were cold, tho,
but otherwise untouched
by the battle waged
dance is what she came to
after surgery
after chemo
after sorrow
after anger.
when she was dying,
audrey rubbed her feet with blue lotion
as tho they were the feet of christ.
krista carried her own cross
uphill, barefoot.
when she died
i held her head in my lap
and washed her face
& took off her gold earrings
& her wedding ring
but i kept her feet covered.
she wouldn't want her feet exposed,
no longer perfect
dancer's feet.
i would give my life
to see her dance again.
i would.
the devil didn't offer,
so i dance my own dance
my fingers playing
across the keyboard,
sort of a dance,
i guess.
but feeble, weak,
it seems,
compared to the flight
of a trickster with winged feet.
my feet are
bones & skin.
padding worn thin
from trying to run away.
the women of my family danced.
grandma dottie
until her feet
bulged with arthritis.
mother's heart gave out
before her jitterbugging
& me. i loved it, too,
tho i couldn't forget what others saw.
i've only danced once,
& who wouldn't
with the island
if you are alive
in trinidad at carnival
you dance.
before dawn
at dirty mas
body to body
mud flying,
drums beating
we flow through
the streets
like spilled beer.
pretty mas,
thinking ohh,
i'm so fine,
wanting to wine,
but shy.
feet treading
port of spain
pied piper truck
with boombox the
size of a duplex.
jump jump jump in de air!
drink water from green coconuts.
jump all day,
feet fine.
do it again next day
in fuchsia orchid wings,
me, krista &
beautiful black & brown
everyone else.
mud, dust,
dance feet dance.
i hear the music
& my toes tingle.
i want to dance.
i want to live.
they're gone,
but i'm not.
gotta dance.
gotta dance.
gotta dance.

"Krista's Feet" was previously published in Temenos, Sis-Bro Publications, Mill Valley, CA

Donna Kennedy is a former journalist and community college instructor with a doctorate in mythological studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She now edits books and writes fantasy fiction. "Krista's Feet" was inspired by a dream about her daughter, a professional dancer and choreographer who died of ovarian cancer at 28.