'You scuff, as you obey'
There is, of course, no hidden chapter in the “Good Book” that explores sandalled Jesus’s fashion rules, but Cornelius Eady in ‘Easter Shoes’ is being funny and deadly serious. The poem takes him back to childhood, to the pains of conformity and the forced obedience of being “dressed”, “encased” and “pinched” into decency. ‘Easter Shoes’ celebrates the petulant act of creative rebellion that he achieves by scuffing the impractical shoes while maintaining the “mirage” of obedience.
by Cornelius Eady
In a hidden chapter of the Good Book,
Is there a verse that explains
Why Jesus cares for fashion,
Why my feet must be encased
And pinched? When you're a kid,
It's how someone else dresses you;
You won't grow into these black, shiny
patents, as much as your mother
Wants it. On the way to Sunday School,
You are a mirage, like the new store shine
You scuff, as you obey.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2022 by Cornelius Eady, 'Easter Shoes' from Prairie Schooner Winter, 2019. Poem reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2022 by the Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Kwame Dawes, is George W Holmes Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska