If the Shoe
I'm one of the kids who grew up in that shoe. The old lady was my mom.
Think about it, what it's like to live in a shoe. Take a look at one of your shoes and imagine a whole bunch of little tiny people and an old lady cooped up inside it.
Or imagine the old lady and the kids are regular size, like you, and then think what a big old shoe it would take to hold all of them.
There were so many of us in our big old shoe that Mom couldn't remember our names. So she just numbered us. I was the youngest, number Thirteen.
Life in our first shoe, the one in the poem, was not very nice. Number Three cried all the time, even when he was happy. Nine wrote her name in green ink on anything she could reach. Number Seven and number Twelve fought like two cats. Four had the hiccups all the time, although in a strange way. She went hic-hic-hic; cup-cup-cup instead of hiccup, hiccup, hiccup. Number Ten walked around with his left forefinger stuck in his ear.
Mom would say, "Number Ten! Take your finger out of your ear!"
And Ten would say, "Whadja say Mom? You know I can't hear you when I've got my finger stuck in my ear."
But that was not the worst thing about living in our old shoe. Everything we did seemed kind of backwards. The hands on the big clock went around thataway instead of thisaway. The window pulled down instead of up. The door opened out instead of in. We woke in the evening, stayed awake all night, and slept all day. We had dinner in the morning, lunch in the moonlight, and breakfast just before we went to sleep. And the dog regularly ate the cat's food, the cat swiped grain from the canary, and the canary would eat nothing but fish.
What a household! What a shoe!
It was driving poor old Mom crazy! "We've got to get out of this place," she would say. "There's something not quite right here."
But where could we go?
We got the answer one day from the plumber who'd come to fix our pipes. We all of us, numbers One through Thirteen, listened as he spoke to Mom. He said, "I think there is something not quite right about this—ah—shoe, Ma'am."
"Tell me about it," said Mom.
"I think it's kind of backwards," he said. "I know 'cause when I let the water out of the sink or flush the toilet, the water goes round and around thisaway instead of the way it ought to go, which is round and around thataway.
"Oh!" said Mom. "You mean our home is...?"
"Yes" said the plumber. "Your shoe is...
"What?" we all said together, all thirteen of us and Mom.
"...a RIGHTY!" he said. "And I can see that you are all LEFTY people."
And with that, the plumber led us down the street to a new shoe, pretty much like our old home but a LEFTY. We moved right in and just as the plumber said, the water went down in the sink round and around thataway instead of round and around thisaway.
Well, by gum, Number Three stopped crying and Number Nine stopped writing her name on everything in green ink.
She switched to red.
And Numbers Seven and Twelve stopped fighting, and Number Four stopped hiccupping, and good old Ten took his finger out of his ear and stuck it in his nose.
When Mom saw him with his finger in his nose, she said "Number Ten! Take your finger out of your nose!"
Because he could hear her, he did so, and put the finger back
in his ear.