Where They Go Barefoot
Where we live, the land is spiked with barbed wire and minefields of jagged pebbles surround our houses. Here we commute through fields of thorns and avenues paved with shards of glass. The fallow land coughs up boric acid and lava trickles from leaky fire hydrants. So we wear tunicate sandals and spiked heels and lazy loafers with armored socks and blue plastic bullet-holed mutant thongs and iron clad oxfords and Cowboys-and-Indians boots and polar vortex Wellies and Pequod Boat Shoes and run-from-the-devil sneakers. We got shoe mongers like arms dealers, cobblers like crack-dealers; a land where the shoe shiner is king.
Since we were children we were told to stay put. Those who strayed were tied to their houses with long hemp ropes to make sure that they don’t venture too far.
But someone told me once that there’s a place where roads merge with forget-me-not-covered highways, a land where they go barefoot. They said that where they go barefoot the breeze is clear of rust and furniture does not attack toes and shins. There’s no athlete’s foot or gangrene. Where they go barefoot they wade in cool water, rest under olive trees to laze the day away.
So I am going, once I find a way to cut the rope tied around my ankles. I will walk on coals, travel through roads of rubble and broken glass deserts. I will walk to where they go barefoot, erect, leaving the landlocked, airtight country behind. I will not stop, not rest, until my shoes rip apart, until the sun and metal cut through the leather, until the tongue dries out, the laces fall apart, until the sole disintegrates and finally my feet, bloody, screaming, newborn, will feel the soft caress of the virgin soil.
Etan Nechin is an Israeli-born author and artist currently working as the head writer and artistic collaborator for the Venice Biennial 2015 Slovenian pavilion. He has contributed to Gravel Magazine, MonkeyBicycle, Entropy, The Huffington Post, Mouth London and several other publications in Hebrew.