A Silent Retreat

IMG_1941 (1)With Cloven Hooves

You have beautiful feet, he said.

In an instant, I wondered what other lies he told.

No one looking at my toes would utter such words.

You wouldn’t dare.

It’s either a fib or a line picked up from some television show.

I knew: the relationship was doomed.

These past few days I’ve thought a lot about feet.

Spending time at a silent retreat at the Zen Monastery means you stare at sockless toes.

One woman—delicate and trim—has blackened soles and toes, which my husband says was probably due to frostbite.

My husband’s feet look pinkish, with toenails formed by a third-grader in a pottery class: gray and misshapen.

Another Zen disciple–a tall woman has elongated flippers–wears toenails painted black.

My toes are painted red to distract wandering eyes from the callouses (tennis) and bunions (mother’s genes).

My toes flare like Spock’s Vulcan salute: Live long and prosper.

My piggy who-went-to-market pairs with the piggy who-stayed-home, while the other three clump together to create the cloven hoof.

The V-shape of five toes looks like Spock’s greeting.

Each foot’s second lieutenant (stay-at-home oinker) looks like an inch-worm caught mid-step: an upside down “V” that’s not at all like its moniker of hammer-toe.


In a pig’s eye.


15 April 2018






About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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1 Response to A Silent Retreat

  1. Russ L says:

    A spouse learns to find those things endearing which make you, you.

    Liked by 2 people

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