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Ode to shoes ( 0) Printer friendly page Print This
By Editorial. Workers World
Workers World
Thursday, Dec 18, 2008

Ah, lowly objects of mundane human existence, forever condemned to carry on your backs the weight of the world, this ode is to you. Because of you we tenderfeet are able to trudge through burning deserts and freezing slush. We slap you upon the pavements of great metropolises and quiet villages until your seams split, your tongues loll and your soles disintegrate. You are then discarded to the ashbins of history, leaving no record of your great service to humanity.

But now comes a humble pair of shoes that shall live forever.

When you flew through the air, one after the other, in a transcendent arc that nearly clipped the ears of W. Mad Dog, a great sigh went up to the heavens and swept the globe. It was the sigh that comes when a door long shut is cracked open, when a torment long denied at last finds its breath.

A presidential media appearance! How many shoes have attended such solemn and august occasions before, dutifully shuffling in and out on cue, never drawing attention to their presence. But this time, you could not remain rooted to the floor. This time it was one WMD too many. You soared and with you went the hopes of suffering humanity.

You rode in on the feet of Muntader al-Zaidi, a 29-year-old Iraqi journalist who, it turned out subsequently, kept a poster of Che on the wall of his modest apartment. As he threw the first shoe, he shouted to WMD, “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!”

Perhaps that shoe’s mate felt left out—but not for long. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” was Zaidi’s greeting to the president as he lofted the second shoe.

Where are you now, oh noble shoes? Have sinister bureaucrats with the Secret Service sliced you apart, trying to find some clue as to who lovingly tanned your leather, stitched your seams, added a touch of polish? Did they search you for weapons of mass destruction? How dense. The WMD was at the podium.

Even if you are bloodied and abused now, you and Zaidi cannot be erased. The liberating deed was done. The stifling weight of bourgeois decorum couldn’t stop it. The pure oxygen of freedom and sovereignty, for which so many have given their lives, filtered through even the reinforced concrete and razor wire of the puke-Green Zone.

The day will come when monuments of bronzed shoes will dot the street corners. Perhaps your torturers know this. Maybe, before disassembling you, these creatures of free enterprise calculated what you will be worth soon on E-Bay and wondered if they could trade you as they did Iraq’s archeological treasures.

But they have lost. And your brief journey, defying the tug of gravity and the gravity of the occasion, proves it.

Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011

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