Tap shoes, dreams, and dust

gathering dust as forgotten things go

My tap shoes gathering dust.  The dark blotch on the top shoe is my fingerprint.


I dreamed of dancing, once
of twirling, gliding, flying
across space and polished floors.
My parents couldn’t afford lessons
so I danced with Judy Forkey, instead.
She was Baryshnikov
to my Kirkland
because she was taller
and could catch me

when I lept.

Later the rage was tap.
Girls who took dance
in the next town over
wore their tap shoes to school
on the day of their lesson.
I loved the

click click click

of metal against
the tiled school floors.
I stuck tacks in the bottoms
of my shoes
trying to approximate the sound

click click click

It wasn’t the same.

Years later
I realized that I was grown up
and in charge of my life
so I bought a pair of tap shoes
and stuck them in my closet
sometimes I took them out
to imitate dance moves
on my linoleum floor
just to hear the

click click click


I can afford lessons
when I find the time,
but time is harder to find
than the tacks
I had to filch
from my teacher’s desk
for the faux shoes.

harder to come by
than dust.

Intrigued by the thought of leftovers.

29 thoughts on “Tap shoes, dreams, and dust

  1. What a lovely tribute to dreams, Mary. Beautifully written. It speaks to me on so many levels of dreams, unfulfilled, childhood, secret ambitions, and aging in a world ruled by time. Keep it up, Mary, keep it up.


    • Thanks, Barb. While working on the writing of this, I discovered that it really doesn’t bother me anymore, the not knowing how to tap. I have the shoes, and as they’ve gathered the dust I have learned so many other wonderful things in the interim. Life is simply a progression of learning.


  2. Amusing read. In later years, I remember you telling me about putting thumb tacks on the soles of your shoes for the click click sound. I wish I could have bought you a pair of tap dancing shoes back then. That’s why today, I donate a few dollars here & there to enable less fortunate children to follow their dreams.


  3. Tap, tap, tap – the sound of tap dancing. Always conjures up thoughts of young dancers dancing on a tile floor…. It’s funny how others influence us to be like them – when it is so much easier to be ourselves – to be who we are… Love the idea that you got them, but found time to do what makes you you….


  4. I remember putting tacks in the heels of my saddle oxfords so they would tap! Alas, I never had any dance lessons, though I yearned to dance. A coworker of my dad’s had a daughter a few years older than I, and she used to give him boxes of her outgrown clothes for me. They weren’t all suitable but some of my favorite outfits came from those boxes. One time, when I was about 10, there were a couple of leotards, a fluffy pink tutu, some tights, and a couple of pairs of dance shoes – ballet slippers and tap shoes. Sadly, my feet were always bigger than that older girl’s so I couldn’t wear the shoes, but I practically lived in those dance outfits that summer and we put on many a performance on the lawn with a sheet over the clothesline to define our stage. Great memories!


    • I LOVE that you stuck tacks in the heels of your shoes, too! I did treat myself to ballet lessons when I was in my early twenties. It was fun, but hard work. I didn’t stick with it long – a few months. But it taught me to stand up straight, which I practice to this day.

      Oh, summer performances on the lawn. What fun. Too bad you didn’t record them.


  5. When you write about the past, it’s like beautiful met crazy and they made a baby. And no such thing as ‘dust’, mama. It’s sand, of time and place and forever. Swept out and thrown back, tide to castles to songs to the oceans deep.
    We filch this dust, but really, it’s a borrowed place.
    Thank you for always giving me what the writing is about.


  6. Reading your words, I was able to hear the click, click, click.
    Such a warm, lovely post … get those shoes out of the closet, dust them off (or not)and enjoy yourself.
    Thank you for this.


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  9. Memories…they make the deepest impression and most beautiful thoughts, they never get dusted! I am sure the tap shoe dancing phase must be one among the most cherish time in your life. Thanks for sharing a beautiful expression, I loved it 🙂


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