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 flying never held her down. they were cold, tho, thanks to chemo, but otherwise untouched by the battle waged above. 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 waltzed until her feet bulged with arthritis. mother's heart gave out before her jitterbugging feet. & me. i loved it, too, tho i couldn't forget what others saw. i've only danced once, really, & who wouldn't with the island pulsating. 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, dancing, wanting to wine, but shy. feet treading port of spain behind 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.