Is there power in the color red?

Are red shoes inherently magical?

I put on my new mud-stomping, shorter-than-Wellingtons, prettier-than-duck-shoes sloggers, and suddenly, I wanted to dance.

I’m no Dorothy. I din’t inherit through the death of a witch. I bought them for walking our dog in our mud-pit of a backyard. All winter long it has snowed and melted, and rained, and snowed and melted again until our yard resembles gruel. I wanted to dance across the kitchen tiles, shaking mud from my soles.

I wanted to dance like Hans Christian Anderson’s bewitched heroine, who envied the princess with red Morocco shoes. The poor girl’s shoes were purchased for her Confirmation, and when the sacred becomes repurposed for the secular, her pretty red dancing shoes took on a mind of their own, and

“when she wanted to go to the right, the shoes danced to the left, and when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced down the room, down the stairs through the street, and out through the gates of the town. She danced, and was obliged to dance, far out into the dark wood. . .”

The only remedy for Anderson’s grim heroine was amputation.

I wanted to dance like Anne Sexton’s The Red Shoes, “. . . . wound up like a cobra that sees you” that “could not listen” and “could not stop.”

I was saved by the mud.The mud which fashioned Adam. The earth which cradles our dead. The mud and the dog crap in our grass-bare back yard keep me humble. I poke the black rubber soles with a toothpick and paper towel over the trash can to dislodge the flattened feces. I rinse the shoes. I wash my hands.

I escape the curse, the compulsion.

I am only the princess of dog poop.


Other Reflections on Red Shoes

The Curse of the Red Shoes: Dancing Manias of the Middle Ages by Miss Jessel. April 4, 2013 on The Haunted Palace: History, Folklore, and the Supernatural [blog]

Fairy Tale Fridays: The Red Shoes by Juli McLoone. March 20 2015 on Beyond the Reading Room from the University of Michigan Library.

Guilt and the Lack of Social Mobility by Mari Ness. May 4, 2017 on

The Red Shoes: A Dark Faery Tale of Compulsion and Addiction by Vivienne Tuffnell. March 26, 2011 on Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking [blog]

Why So Fascinating, Red Shoes? by Anna Sutton. September 28, 2011. The Australian Ballet.

“The Red Shoes: 1948 movie: notes from the Cannes Film Festival and the Internet Movie Database

“The Red Shoes” 2009 movie. from the Internet Movie Database

Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the 1929 movie “The Wizard of Oz” Photo by RadioFan at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,