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American Life in Poetry: ‘Easter Shoes’

Kwame Dawes

By Kwame Dawes

There is, of course, no hidden chapter in the “Good Book” that explores sandaled Jesus’ fashion rules, but Cornelius Eady in “Easter Shoes” is being funny and deadly serious. The poem takes him back to childhood, to the pains of conformity and the forced obedience of being “dressed”, “encased” and “pinched” into decency. “Easter Shoes” celebrates the petulant act of creative rebellion that he achieves by scuffing the impractical shoes while maintaining the “mirage” of obedience.

Easter Shoes

In a hidden chapter of the Good Book,

Is there a verse that explains

Why Jesus cares for fashion,

Why my feet must be encased

And pinched? When you’re a kid,

It’s how someone else dresses you;

You won’t grow into these black, shiny

patents, as much as your mother

Wants it. On the way to Sunday School,

You are a mirage, like the new store shine

You scuff, as you obey.

Poem copyright Cornelius Eady, “Easter Shoes” from Prairie Schooner Winter, 2019. American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. oem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2022 by The Poetry Foundation. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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