According to Wikipedia – digi-bible of our days – in Catholic theology, an indulgence is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. According to the Free Dictionary – second on the Google search list – an indulgence is the act, or an instance of, indulging. According to me – pilgrim and self-confessed fool – an indulgence is a favour granted.

Which is what I’m asking of you.

Indulge me.

Anyone who has read Sinning Across Spain, or who has browsed here, will know that my chief delight, other than walking, is poetry; the lusher the better, particularly if it is Spanish.

IMG_2297My lesser known delight is my feet.

I love them. They are my best, my favourite, bits. They have never given me blisters or pains or bunions. They make no complaint when hot or bothered, cold or wet, bruised or swollen.

They just go on.

And on.

And on.

IMG_2695This summer they have had some excellent times traipsing about in sand beside three great oceans – the Pacific, the Indian and the Southern. They have walked me far and wide on both sides of the continent, keeping me grounded but also kicking me through waters and over waves. They have skipped and they have played.

They’ve had a chance to loll, too; to rest and be admired. They’ve even had their toes painted red in celebration of their reliability and fortitude.

So what of the indulgence?

Well, tonight I found a poem by Pablo Neruda – one I’d heard before but had somehow forgotten. A bit like my feet. So in honour of the greatness, and the romance, of feet – indulge me. Please.

Here is a poem from the Spanish master. An indulgence if ever I saw one.


Your Feet

When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone,
your hard little feet.
I know that they support you,
and that your sweet weight
rises upon them.
Your waist and your breasts,
the doubled purple
of your nipples,
the sockets of your eyes
that have just flown away,
your wide fruit mouth,
your red tresses,
my little tower.
But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.


Gracias, dear feet. You who are closest to the earth, you are my rhythm-makers. You are my markers of miles and smiles and tears. You are the quellers of my fears, dear feet that achieve such feats. You are my best bits.




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12 thoughts on “Indulgences

  1. How extraordinary – but not about feet – about Pablo NERUDA. When I lived in Madrid (1977) I read (in Spanish) one-third of his: Memorias: Confieso que he vivido. When I didn’t know much Spanish! And I’ve just been speaking of those things – and your blog opens up…!!!

    To-day literally all around Sydney with visiting German/Austraian kinfolk I have walked much thinking of MY feet – and the 1200 km pilgrimage I walked around Shikoku (Japan) four years ago. A Sydney kinsman will do the same starting in another week!

    I am amazed by your ability to celebrate the foot (but why not)! So thank-you!

    1. Jim! Neruda and the feet! I think they are both cause for much celebration, and I’m glad you enjoyed. My prescription? A long and intense massage of the toes in gratitude!
      May we keep on walking.

  2. Ah … a great reminder to appreciate the everyday every day

    From the sublime to the ridiculous … this old rhyme, used so playfully in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ has been echoing in my brain recently:

    If Moses supposes his toeses are roses,
    Then Moses supposes erroneously;
    For nobody’s toeses are posies or roses,
    As Moses supposes his toeses to be.

    1. I love it. And I’m not entirely sure that it is ridiculous. Or did you mean that Pablo was?
      And set to music too…
      Oh those toes!

  3. This is the poem I have been looking for – thank you! I have Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair on the table in front of me, and it is not in there. Then, out of the sky, out of your heart… it has fallen in my lap(top)! Gracias. Lxx

    1. Oooh, love a coincidence, or serendipity, or whatever we call them. But I do want very much to know why you were hunting for it? What’s cooking? xx

  4. Isn’t there an old saying that goes –
    “Red toe-nails at night,
    sailor’s delight” ?
    Maybe I got that wrong,but it went something like that ?-)
    Sorry…I just had to throw that in.

  5. I will never ever leave my toenails unpainted again, Darren!

    I only ever knew about Turkish Delight. Sailor’s delight is a whole new world…
    The things you learn from your village!

    1. It’s actually ‘red sky at night’ ,and not toe-nails,
      but I took some poetic license with the original verse which went like this in North America:
      ‘Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.
      Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

      In Great Britain and Ireland:
      Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,
      Red sky in morning, shepherd’s warning.

      A French variation, which translates to
      “Red at night, great hope,
      Red in the morning, rain on the way,” goes:

      Rouge le soir, bel espoir,
      Rouge le matin, de la pluie en chemin.

      I think I got the french and American verses mixed up which would explain the toe-nail poem .-)

  6. Me, I like the toenail version!
    Thanks for all those. Wonderful that such a funny little verse can apply across so many cultures.

  7. Well Ailsa,may the big fella strike me dead if I’m fibbing,but soon as I wrote the above comments I start back on Jessica Watson’s book “True Spirit” and there she is writing about painting her toe nails pink and admiring red sunsets.
    Then she mentions the above rhyme about sunsets (page 179).
    I wrote it into a post on my blog and pinched a toe-nail photo to use from your post here,if that’s OK ?

  8. Great post, Darren, and I love the coincidences. Your worlds keep on overlapping. That always makes me feel I am on the right track. May it be so for you.

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