Posted by on Sep 18, 2012 in Reflections | 4 comments

The Empty Dancing Shoes
by Cornelius Eady
My friends,
As it has been proven in the laboratory,
An empty pair of dance shoes
Will sit on the floor like a wart
Until it is given a reason to move.


Those of us who study inertia
(Those of us covered with wild hair and sleep)
Can state this without fear:
The energy in a pair of shoes at rest
Is about the same as that of a clown


Knocked flat by a sandbag.
This you can tell your friends with certainty:
A clown, flat on his back,
Is a lot like an empty pair of
    dancing shoes.


An empty pair of dancing shoes
Is also a lot like a leaf
Pressed in a book.
And now you know a simple truth:
A leaf pressed in, say, The Colossus


    by Sylvia Plath,
Is no different from an empty pair of dance shoes


Even if those shoes are in the middle of the Stardust Ballroom
With all the lights on, and hot music shakes the windows
    up and down the block.
This is the secret of inertia:
The shoes run on their own sense of the world.
They are in sympathy with the rock the kid skips
    over the lake
After it settles to the mud.
Not with the ripples,
But with the rock.


A practical and personal application of inertia
Can be found in the question:
Whose Turn Is It
To Take Out The Garbage?
An empty pair of dance shoes
Is a lot like the answer to this question,
As well as book-length poems
Set in the Midwest.


To sum up:
An empty pair of dance shoes
Is a lot like the sand the 98-pound weakling
    brushes from his cheeks
As the bully tows away his girlfriend.


When he spies the coupon at the back of the comic book,
He is about to act upon a different set of scientific principles.
He is ready to dance.


My brother heard music coming from their basement the other day and when he went down to investigate, he found my son dancing his heart out all by his lonesome. This is exactly why, despite the irrefutable fact he leaves a trail of havoc behind him wherever he goes, I have a soft spot in my mama gut for that kid.

On this cloudy Tuesday morning, while the rest of us grunted at each other and shuffled sleepily to our closets and bathrooms, he woke up sprightly, and singing. “I had the best dream ever,” he told me.

I wish I could crawl into his head sometimes and take a peek of the world through his big hazel eyes. Would it be neon bright? Animated? Magical like Narnia? Less cynical, calloused, hostile?

There’s so much I want for my children: health, discipline, strong relationships, perseverance…but perhaps most of all, inextinguishable and unashamed hope in love, mercy, redemption, the Resurrection – no matter what they encounter.

And my sons and daughters are looking to me to either confirm or deny with my words and actions that life is salvifically and mysteriously beautiful, eternally good. They are one powerful motivation to keep on fighting till my last and final breath for little victory after little victory over arrogance, selfishness and despair. 


Remember, never to fear the power of evil more than you trust in the power and love of God.

—Hermas, one of the Seventy