Once, my entire family sat around in a circle to compare the structure
of our feet. I and Demeter had my mother's feet--short and stubby toes with
a primitive last toe. Wystan had our father's feet, grossly elongated. Their
toes looked like fingers and both of them could grasp anything with their
feet. Wystan picked up a spoon and actually brought it to his mouth. Everyone
clapped. My father's feet had large blue veins that popped above the surface
and wrapped the feet. Marilyn's feet were the greatest shock. Unlike her
hands, they were wrinkled, swollen, mummified. The nails were hidden by
corns. She told me that they were beautiful before she was pregnant.
I remember when I was ten. My mother and father slept with Demeter nearby, in a crib. Wystan was off in boarding school. He would come back a year later but in the meantime I had no one to sleep with and my room was far away from my parents' bedroom. Sometimes I woke up, thirsty and terrified, so I would feel my way through the dark to my parents' bed early in the middle of the night. They kept a cup of water on a small table. I would drink their water. I knew I was not supposed to sleep with them so I would crawl in at the foot of the bed, their feet in my stomach.
This, for some reason, was allowed. I would awaken from this second sleep cold and stiff when, accidentally, my father or my mother would kick me in their sleep. Once in a while, I was allowed to sleep with them but this was only rarely, to discourage this habit.
I remember looking at the bottom of Demeter's feet. Feet that had hardly ever been used, softer, perhaps, than even her hands. In comparison, my feet were monstrous, leaden.
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