“To the Woman Who Shoplifted My Black Dansk Clogs” by Bija Gutoff

Bija Gutoff


To the woman who shoplifted my black Dansk clogs 
from the consignment store where I sometimes browse—
because maybe there’s a sweater
that belonged to someone who
changed their style or size, divorced, moved, or took a new job, 
and so those stripes no longer suited her,
and sometimes bring a few items to sell,
like my black Dansk clogs,
because I imagine they will step into new stories 
in the lives of other women who, choosing them, 
will feel that little shiver of delight 
the way I did when I first found them—
When I returned to collect my portion of the sale price
for the three things I had consigned:
that grey jacket (airport, impulse, last trip to see my father)
that turquoise scarf (gift shop, Santa Fe art museum, desert colors)
and those black Dansk clogs (neighborhood shoe store, a day needing armor)
the clerk, finding no record of a transaction,
and no actual clogs left on the shelf,
concluded that someone had stolen them.
I felt surprised for a moment—strangely light—
but not violated.
And instantly began to imagine 
my clogs on the feet of their new owner,
and to wonder why she took them.
I would have given them to you if I had known you needed them.
And if it wasn’t desperation but the thrill of transgression
that drove you, or even if it was just a prank, 
that’s ok too.
I hope, with their blocky weight,
they shield your arches from fatigue and your toes from harm.
I hope they look sharp with your jeans and thick socks.
I hope you relish the power of that clumpy sound their wooden soles make
when you stride into a room.
As my mother and grandmother used to say,
wear them in good health. 
It’s a fair trade—
you got the clogs and I got the story.

from Rattle #81, Fall 2023


Bija Gutoff: “It’s not as if I think right away, ‘This experience needs to be a poem.’ But when it shakes me, and keeps echoing, and won’t let me go, the words begin to fall, ripe, ready to be sliced like apples into a pie. Then I have to work it, bake it, share it. Reader, can you picture this? Can you taste it? Have you felt it? Moments of grief, wonder, compassion, the realizations of aging and loss, bring me to my knees, and then to my pen.” (web)

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