A Natural History: Maureen Gibbon


A Natural History of My Feet

Text and Photograph by Maureen Gibbon

Right after I’m born, I turn yellow with jaundice, so doctors change part of my blood through my heels.  Welshman Bérnard Keller gives me the pints.  Diolch yn fawr, Bérnard.

When I’m little, my father paints my toenails.

I wear my new first grade shoes everywhere, even with nightgowns.

At fifteen I get round-heeled.  I tip backward into backseats and beds.

I leave one pair of shoes in Paris.

Each summer I break in new sandals.  What really breaks are blisters.

At twenty-six, my lover tells me my Via Spiga heels are “killer shoes.”  I should have used one on him.

In each of my feet, there’s a fan of metatarsals.  My skin’s the silk, my talus the rivet.

My ex’s mother lost her legs by inches, starting with her toes.

I plan to keep my feet on the ends of my legs.

Metatarsals and phalanges on Eustrombus gigas

Metatarsals and phalanges on Eustrombus gigas


Maureen Gibbon is the author of Swimming Sweet Arrow, Magdalena, and Thief, a new novel forthcoming from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2010.  She lives in a meadow in northern Minnesota with black bears and wild turkeys.



“A Natural History of My Feet” is part of the Natural Histories Project. Click here to learn more >>

Learn about Maureen’s work at www.maureengibbon.com.


One comment

  1. I love this. I just saw your latest book listed in O magazine’s must reads. Wonderful! Wishing you all the best and yes, I am going to get my hands on a copy of The Thief.

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