Carl Sandburg





Never Kick a Slipper at the Moon

    When a girl is growing up in the Rootabaga Country she learns 
some things to do, some things not to do.
    “Never kick a slipper at the moon if it is the time for the Dancing 
Slipper Moon when the slim early moon looks like the toe and the 
heel of a dancer’s foot,” was the advice Mr. Wishes, the father of 
Peter Potato Blossom Wishes, gave to his daughter.
    “Why?” she asked him.
    “Because your slipper will go straight up, on and on to the moon, 
and fasten itself on the moon as if the moon is a foot ready for 
dancing,” said Mr. Wishes.
    “A long time ago there was one night when a secret word was 
passed around to all the shoes standing in the bedrooms and closets.
    “The whisper of the secret was: ‘To-night all the shoes and the 
slippers and the boots of the world are going walking without any 
feet in them. To-night when those who put us on their feet in the 
daytime, are sleeping in their beds, we all get up and walk and go 
walking where we walk in the daytime.’
    “And in the middle of the night, when the people in the beds 
were sleeping, the shoes and the slippers and the boots everywhere
 walked out of the bedrooms and the closets. Along the sidewalks 
on the streets, up and down stairways, along hallways, the shoes 
and slippers and the boots tramped and marched and stumbled.
    “Some walked pussyfoot, sliding easy and soft just like people 
in the daytime. Some walked clumping and clumping, coming 
down heavy on the heels and slow on the toes, just like people 
in the daytime.
    “Some turned their toes in and walked pigeon-toe, some spread 
their toes out and held their heels in, just like people in the daytime. 
Some ran glad and fast, some lagged slow and sorry.
    “Now there was a little girl in the Village of Cream Puffs who 
came home from a dance that night. And she was tired from dancing 
round dances and square dances, one steps and two steps, toe 
dances and toe and heel dances, dances close up and dances far 
apart, she was so tired she took off only one slipper, tumbled onto 
her bed and went to sleep with one slipper on.
    “She woke up in the morning when it was yet dark. And she went 
to the window and looked up in the sky and saw a Dancing Slipper 
Moon dancing far and high in the deep blue sea of the moon sky.
    “‘Oh—what a moon—what a dancing slipper of a moon!’ she cried 
with a little song to herself.
    “She opened the window, saying again, ‘Oh! what a moon!’—and 
kicked her foot with the slipper on it straight toward the moon.
    “The slipper flew off and flew up and went on and on and up and 
up in the moonshine.
    “It never came back, that slipper. It was never seen again. When 
they asked the girl about it she said, ‘It slipped off my foot and went 
up and up and the last I saw of it the slipper was going on straight to 
the moon.’”
    And these are the explanations why fathers and mothers in the 
Rootabaga Country say to their girls growing up, “Never kick a slipper 
at the moon if it is the time of the Dancing Slipper Moon when the ends 
of the moon look like the toe and the heel of a dancer’s foot.”