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Ruth Fainlight

Flower Close Up

Flower Feet


Real women's feet wore these objects
that look like toys or spectacle cases stiched
from bands of coral, jade, and apricot silk
embroidered with twined sprays of flowers.
Those hearts, tongues, crescents, and disks, leather
shapes an inch across, are soles of shoes
no wider than the span of my ankle.

If the feet had been cut off and the raw stumps
thrust inside the openings, surely
it could not hurt more than broken toes, twisted
back and bandaged tight. An old woman,
leaning on a cane outside her door
in a chinese village, smiled to tell how
she fought and cried, how when she stood on points
of pain that gnawed like fire, nurse and mother
praised her tottering walk on flower feet.
Her friends nodded, glad the times had changed.
Otherwise, they would have crippled their daughters.

Women in the Chinese village wore silk shoes. These shoes resembled a toy, it had sprayed flowers that decorated the shoes and the stitching was from coral, jade and apricot silk. The shoes were very narrow not wider than an average ankle.
There was an old lady who reminisced how when she was younger her toes were broken and were bandaged tightly. She was praised by her nurse and her mother for being brave because she knew this was something that had to be done. The old lady remembered the pain as being excrutiating, but that was the price to pay for beautiful feet. The women were relieved that this was no longer practiced. They could not imagine sending their daughters through this painful ordeal.
Victoria Allen


Rhythm | Ruth Fainlight Biography and Links | Week 11 and links to web sites. | History of Chinese Foot Binding | Tone; Images; word choice/order; speech | Symbol, Allegory, Irony | Rhyme, Assonance, Alliteration

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