Bio Note: I miss the grand old department stores and the shopping trips with mother and grandmother to mark the start of the new school year. Lancaster, Pennsylvania had Watt and Shand, which was quite lovely, but did not compare to Wanamakers in Philadelphia. New shoes for a new school year felt pretty special. I have published three chapbooks and am the English language poetry editor for Poetry Hall: A Chinese and English Bilingual Journal.
Gift Shoes from Philadelphia
My grandmother bought me a pair of green loafers in September from Wanamaker’s department store in downtown Philadelphia when I was nine. Afterwards we dined on delicate sandwiches in the Crystal Tea Room, me periodically bending sideways to admire my new shoes. Someday, a left-handed gentleman may offer you an oyster on the half shell in the bright afternoon and you could become Venus. You could rise from the sea’s white foam as it sizzles across the smooth curl of a wave, as it bounces and dances through the crash as if trying out some startling new shoes. You could dance like seafoam while the multitudes line up for Mars, his lust for conflict sometimes festering in innocuous places. As a child I had no idea shoes even came in green, or that love could take the form of gift shoes from Philadelphia. I wore them to school day after day, the smart gold buckles gleaming in the dim hallways. Mrs. Seldomridge’s classroom with its rigid rows of desks, her strict rules, the bully, and new math textbook tried to stifle me but my sleek green slip-ons would have none of it.
©2021 Sylvia Cavanaugh
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