Last night I woke at three in the morning and I was lying there thinking about my grandmother. For some reason, I started thinking again about the shoes she used to wear. Grandma used to take old shoes and cut the tops off them and wear them like that around the house.
I wrote a poem:
Grandma used to wear men’s shoes
though she never tried to stand
like a man. Like any woman who
carried love for her family in her heart and
Mother Earth determination to hold her family
close to the security of her love, she just
wanted to be free from having to stand
alone, at the end of the day.
were rough from years of picking cotton and
her joints stiff from a lifetime of dropping
her self-respect and self-love on the doorstep
day after day, whenever she’d leave the house.
Always they’d be there to greet her when she
dragged herself home most evenings – sometimes
the neighbor’s kids would find them and play
with them until their parents would force them
to return those feelings back to grandma’s doorstep.
One day the neighbor’s kids – did I happen to
mention those kids were white – took grandma’s
feelings and hid them underneath the porch of her
sharecropper’s shack and charged her ten dollars to
go get it. That was her last ten and she just slipped
on those shoes that belonged to a man
at some point and walked tall as the strong black
woman she was.
One day a man was standing on her porch, he
was protecting those feelings she had left on
the doorstep. He said he’d spotted her leaving
the field one day and instantly fell in love. That day
grandma traded in her men shoes and for once
walked like a woman until the day after
grandpa died and she was forced to wear
men shoes again.
Peace & Love,