Morton's Toe - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
I possess a Morton's toe
I do not thrust it into wedges, stilettos,
Or high-rise platform soles.
I coddle it, this toe which belonged to Pharaohs
This toe in ancient times
Was party to the oratory of Greeks
Once, I played the piano with my toes
An elegant little number
A soft shoe shuffle
Rajah, who carries the Buddha's tooth in far-off Kandy
Has a high-cast, holy tail of utmost sanctity
But not a Morton's toe on his stumpy foot.
Hitler's goose-stepping troops were hammer-toed
Flat footed. Stamped on the faces of the fallen
Club-footed Claudius, Tutankhamen,
Goebbels, Byron and Dudley Moore
Limped into the history books
Was podiatry their Achilles heel?
For a summer, I worked in a shoe shop
I held the heels of customers, warm as teacups
Searching their feet for signs of the royal toe.
Winkle pickers, Hush Puppies, Odour-Eaters
All loosen their tongues and soles to Morton's Toes.
Web-toed owners pale in insignificance.
I have seen them all, the pigeon toed, splay-footed
The Hong-Kong foot with its pungent fungal hues
And have you seen toe-cleavages in court shows?
Foot fetishists would die for such a sight.
Life moves forward, a progression of treads
Tripping, jogging, processing down
Pilgrims' Ways, pastures, pavements
Moving on in step to the dead march.
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