In a Shoe

by Christa Mastrangelo

for my grandmother

I wonder why the good lord never taught me
to say, “when,” gave me a shut off switch, before
I became the old woman in the shoe.

I’ve got less than an ounce of goodness
left in me for these children—they’ve stolen
every bit. I make it through the day

reminding myself there’s gin behind the icebox.
I nap—they scream that the dinner is burned again.
I tell them they can eat it or starve, makes no difference

to me. One goes, there’re still eight more to worry me
to death. What do I wish for? Not that anyone asks.
I’ve got a basement full of junk

and no time to clean it; my refrigerator smells
like old greasy ham, and I haven’t had a new
dress since my wedding day (even that one I

made). There’s sewing to be done or the girls
will go naked, 18 socks need mendin, the garden’s
gone to weeds. There’s never a moment when someone

isn’t screaming they need something. Silence.
I’d like silence, and just to crawl
back into bed, hide from it all. Without me watchin

maybe they’d go on and burn the house down.
I’d pray they’d get out,
of course,
before the house went up completely.


Christa Mastrangelo is a poet and teacher. She taught creative writing and English composition for many years before jumping into teaching yoga. Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Water-Stone Review, The Florida English Journal, Umbrella, Poemeleon,Valparaiso Poetry Review, Arsenic Lobster Review, Blue Ridge Magazine, among others. She holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles, and has published many non-fiction essays as well.