Friday, March 28, 2008


I am not, by nature, a tiptoer. Even though my friend Brian, the physical therapist, says that the bouncy gait I remember but can no longer reproduce (I've re-learned how to walk by hitting with my heel first) came from leading with the toes, I mean that I don't usually approach things with a lot of subtlety or secrecy. (In fact, come to think of it, Brian is the one who told me in college "Jeanne, you have no guile." I think I've acquired some since then.)

My daughter is also a physical, if not metaphorical, tiptoer. Ever since she learned to walk (at nine months), she has tiptoed around the house. Now, at 14, she doesn't like wearing shoes or socks, but sometimes likes high heels because they support the way her foot likes to arch itself naturally. When I read this Ted Kooser poem, I thought of her:

Walking on Tiptoe

Long ago we quit lifting our heels
like the others--horse, dog, and tiger--
though we thrill to their speed
as they flee. Even the mouse
bearing the great weight of a nugget
of dog food is enviably graceful.
There is little spring to our walk,
we are so burdened with reponsibility,
all of the disciplinary actions
that have fallen to us, the punishments,
the killings, and all with our feet
bound stiff in the skins of the conquered.
But sometimes, in the early hours,
we can feel what it must have been like
to be one of them, up on our toes,
stealing past doors where others are sleeping,
and suddenly able to see in the dark.


Joe said...

I have yet to see the "grace" in a mouse skittering across my counter, although I'll admit to being in awe of their speed and precision.

On the other hand, I find myself of late "suddenly able to see in the dark," and there is indeed something primal in being the silverback who brings comfort without changing the light.

Serena said...

Thanks for posting about this poem and your thoughts. You're the first to be inspired to post on their own blog about a poem from the Virtual Poetry Circle.

Fantastic! I hope you'll come by next week to see what classic poem we are taking a look at.