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Red Slippers
Amy Lowell


Red slippers in a shop-window; and outside in the street, flaws of gray, windy sleet!
Behind the polished glass the slippers hang in long threads of red, 
festooning from the ceiling like stalactites of blood, 
flooding the eyes of passers-by with dripping color, 
jamming their crimson reflections against the windows of cabs and tram-cars, 
screaming their claret and salmon into the teeth of the sleet, 
plopping their little round maroon lights upon the tops of umbrellas.

The row of white, sparkling shop-fronts is gashed and bleeding, it bleeds red slippers. 
They spout under the electric light, fluid and fluctuating, a hot rain—and freeze again 
to red slippers, myriadly multiplied in the mirror side of the window.

They balance upon arched insteps like springing bridges of crimson lacquer; 
they swing up over curved heels like whirling tanagers sucked in a wind-pocket; 
they flatten out, heelless, like July ponds, flared and burnished by red rockets.

Snap, snap, they are cracker sparks of scarlet in the white, monotonous block of shops.

They plunge the clangor of billions of vermilion trumpets into the crowd outside, 
and echo in faint rose over the pavement.

People hurry by, for these are only shoes, and in a window farther down is a big lotus bud 
of cardboard, whose petals open every few minutes and reveal a wax doll, 
with staring bead eyes and flaxen hair, lolling awkwardly in its flower chair.

One has often seen shoes, but whoever saw a cardboard lotus bud before?

The flaws of gray, windy sleet beat on the shop-window 
where there are only red slippers.


This poem is in the public domain.


Amy Lowell (1874 - 1925) was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, to a family of significant wealth and social standing. In keeping with the standards of the time, she received little formal education and was, in fact, a notoriously poor speller, but she was  an avid and discriminating collector of books, traveled extensively, and educated herself in many areas. Amy began writing and publishing when she was in her mid-twenties and, at one point, was publishing a book a year. A large, imposing woman fond of smoking cigars, Amy was a good promoter and a vocal advocate of poetry; that plus her reputation for eccentricity brought sell-out crowds to her readings and lectures.




Post New Comment:
A wonderful poem I wasn't familiar with. Thank you, Jayne, for introducing me to it. I learned a new meaning for "flaws." Loved her use of internal rhymes and alliteration.
Posted 12/05/2014 05:32 PM
I can smell the cigar smoke!
Posted 12/05/2014 08:45 AM

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