Fred D'Aguiar

Made for Walking

Fred D'Aguiar

Enslaving chain Made for Walking by Fred D'Aguiar Click image for a larger view

Donated by William Charles Grant JP in April 1880
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter
Accession number: E761

Made for Walking

Across time and space.
On the thin film of a bubble.
On the ceiling of the inside of a mountain.
Along the rutted floor of a lake.

And run too. With the twist and turn
Of white rapids in a broad river,
That smoothers boulders; that shaves skin
Off left and right banks.

And fly. With the solitary eagle, circling
At the top of a wedding cake of air currents.
With a crowd of parakeets at home in the city
Scraping their tongues and beaks on silicone air.

Dance as well. Through nights.
To drums, to ululations, clapping hands,
Stomping feet, shoulder-dip,
Winding hips, elbows out, knees bent.

To invite two feet, to rest, ankle deep
In a hug, for warmth, for a trail of stones,
Against dust, insect bite, bramble, thorn;
That draw the eyes, down to earth.

Slip them on, lace them up,
Buckle up for a trip back in time
To a place without fences.
To the animal that gave its skin.

The hands that scraped skin clean
And spread it in sun, cut shoe
Shapes, bored holes for straps,
Sewed for you to soak in history,

Geography, made bullet-proof
By these moccasins. Made into a stranger
To yourself. Shoes for lungs, heart, mind.
Are you willing to share the lead or be led?
To walk in these shoes and drive the clock
Back to the best time for moccasins.
Take them forward into the future
Where the past of shoes recovers, renews.

As if never worn. As if hungry for feet.
Touch that softens ground, left moccasin,
Right moccasin, becomes heartbeats;
In-between each step, for breaths.


We walk across the roof of this colony.
Over calvary, cannon fire, pistols, rifles.

The people who made us, their children
Wore us. They were not bullet-proof.

They make and wear us still.
We are proof of them.

We left them, back then, for dead.
Travelled into your future.

To tell the story of their hands
Crafting us. Sad and glad in our colours.

Add their deaths to our name.
We prickle eyes, put feet to work.

We look so good you mistake us,
Slip your hands into us,

Mittens missing thumbs;
Cloud for footprint;

Our tracks made of stars;
Pair of soft skulls, for the child in you,

In two minds about the promise
Of this fading world.