Friday, April 24, 2015

Incognito Shoeshine

Hunkered on his haunches
by the entrance to Tiffany's
a dark raisin of a man
surrounded by brushes
and wax and a worn wooden
shoe prop smiles approvingly
at my red boots as I pass by.
I stop and tell him if I had
cash I would let him
give them a shine.

He touches them reverently
and offers to buff them
for free. He's no freeloader -
even though his home is
on the streets. I take his
hand and tell him a short
story of my upbringing.
We didn't have any
blacks or shoeshines
where I lived. We had
farmers and potatoes
and Mormons.
What? he said.

I told him I'd always had
the desire to have my
shoes shined proper
in a big city.

I told him I found my heart's
desire in D.C. The shoeshine
buttered my battered
shoes -  restored us both
to health. Moisturized us. Put
a shine on my face and my toes.
As she ministered to
me and my shoes she
expressed her passion for
quality leather and leather potions
and how maintenance kept good
shoes going for years.

I told him about how my
newly shined shoes and me
left with an essence - her imbued
love and hope traveled
from my feet to the
top of my head. He
did a sweeping motion
up from the ground to
his heart as I spoke -
like he foreknew this
thing of which I spoke.

He silently benedicted me
a papal worthy blessing as I
bent low over his wrinkled,
un-bejeweled hand.