14 September 2011

For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

It's a six-word short story that takes my breath away. Whether or not Hemingway wrote it is sometimes up for controversy, but I like to believe it's true. Either way, it's written. Six words. Carefully constructed to hold a deeper truth than any I have ever read anywhere else:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Bam. Gut-wrenching. Having read it in graduate school when my literal self posed as a reader, writer and critic of short stories, I read it with gusto, ate it up and spit it back out, analyzing the six-words into what seemed to be profound, graduate-school like gusto.

And now? Now, I just sit staring at the words over and over again.

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.


I couldn't even write about her this year in her eighth year yet. Why not? Perhaps I am trying to preserve some sense of privacy now, some sense of holding something inside me that I can't possibly release. After all, how do you capture what your eight-year-old daughter might be doing when your ten-year-old daughter is standing before you reading a poem:

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Yes, those are my shoes. Yes, there is something wrong, something missing. Yes, give them back.

Only I wouldn't have sold them I don't believe. I think I would have held onto them if only, if only I had shoes to hold onto because even those weren't purchased yet. I am sure that I would have recycled her sister's shoes only 2 1/2 years old, but what would I do with a pair of unworn baby shoes, perhaps still in their box, perhaps white with pink bows or pink with white bows?

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

I cannot hardly believe that school has started and an entire class of third graders lines up, and she isn't part of them. She doesn't stand amongst the others in our family.


For sale.


Baby shoes.


Never worn.

It is the small things now that can undo me. The surprises, the take your breath away and catch you off guard. The whisper or hint of something that never was.

past. future. present.

My six-word story has to be written. Has to be recorded. Has to be remembered. For after this, who else will really remember any of it at all? Because all of us will simply be a figment, one day, of this world's imagination.

And so it goes.
And so it is.
And we too shall come to pass.

Sarah. Terry. Carver. Sophia. Grace. Sawyer.


Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Beautiful and heartrending.

Shaik said...

Such as beautiful transformation! Really those are heart touching words! Keep up the good work.

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