Brown Shoe

What has befallen you and led you to the center of a busy intersection, alone, at the peril of being crushed by racing cars? You remain erect and proud, as if standing at a counter of an expensive boutique, or dancing in the moonlight at a lavish cocktail party. What was your journey to this perilous intersection, brown shoe?

You resemble a fashionable, early twentieth century, woman’s, ankle high shoe, with elaborate brogue design and brown, silk laces. You’re made of beautiful, polished, brown leather, which has aged gracefully. Were you lovingly hand made by a master cobbler in Europe for a wealthy matron, or mass produced by immigrants for upscale shoe stores?

Were you worn by a wealthy socialite, or a beautiful debutante? Your size suggests you were worn by a petite woman, perhaps, a blond, brunette or a redhead? Was a man fortunate to have married you, or, did you simply date handsome suitors for your amusement?

Perhaps you were an entrepreneur, a professional woman, corporate chieftain, or a loving homemaker?

How many exotic travels did you enjoy, and romantic encounters did you relish? What were your heartbreaks and disappointments? Did you have children?

What has befallen you, beautiful brown shoe? Did you fall off the back of a thrift store truck, or return to visit your former neighborhood of stately Victorian homes, now replaced by skyscrapers? I pray you weren’t struck in the intersection as you traveled to your afternoon tea with friends, and I shudder to think, you might have been an elderly woman, slowly crossing the street, not making it through the crosswalk in time, before being hit by a careless driver.

As I fight rush hour traffic to present my grandmother’s eulogy, you remain in my thoughts, brown shoe. My grandmother lived to be 103 years old. She was a tireless, progressive, trailblazer in business and politics. She was active in the civil rights movement, fought for equal pay and justice for women, and was an ardent environmentalist. Until the last few years of her life, she had a busy social calendar which included her beloved ballroom dance classes. My grandmother was a “global citizen,” and was concerned for the future of the planet. Her credo was, “Everyone and everything has value and purpose in life.”

I want to rescue you from being crushed in the intersection, so I may cherish you as a valuable family heirloom, or provide you as a gift to my daughter who might research your history. Alas, I’m already blocks away, too late to retrieve you from the perilous intersection.

I pray a kind soul will recognize your beauty, retrieve you from peril, and you will find a home in an upscale vintage thrift store, clothing museum, or become a prized addition to a woman’s shoe collection.

As I peer into the rear view mirror, I see an old, homeless woman, pushing her shopping cart neatly packed with her life’s possessions. She stops, picks you up, and gently polishes you, as if finding you in a fine boutique. She carefully places you in her shopping cart with her other prized possessions.

You reminded me of lost loves, revered, departed relatives, and inequities in our world my beloved, grandmother would work tirelessly to resolve. My remarks at grandmother’s eulogy will have new meaning.

Thank you, brown shoe.


Jonathan Ferrini is a published author who resides in San Diego. He received his MFA in motion picture and television production from UCLA.

Glenn Bowie is a published poet, lyricist and photographer from the Boston area. He also owns and operates an elevator company that supplies custom-built elevators for clients from New England to Hollywood. Author of two poetry and photograph collections (Under the Weight of Whispers and Into the Thorns and Honey) on Big Table Publishing, he donates all profits from his books to various charities for the homeless and local animal shelters.