She spent half of her life
wearing the same pair of shoes.
When she first saw them, they were dazzling…
full of promise (and promises!)
Tightly laced and polished,
glistening like diamonds upon her feet.
They were immediately comfortable, and comforting.
At first, she walked through dark night forests
and midnight-winding streets; breaking them in,
smiling at the melody of new leather creaking
in harmony with the violin-sawing of cricket wings,
with the ruffling of the night owls feathers.
She dared to share her dreams, and danced in her new shoes
with abandon and trust and hope.
The shoes spoke to her of wondrous things to come…
making promises shoes should not make
but new love demands –
of forever cradling her feet against sharpened stones;
of warming her toes through winter’s storms;
of lifting her heals in rapturous dance…
She fell in love with these shoes,
flooded with dreams of where they might carry her.
Each morning, she slipped them on with tenderness and love;
each night, un-laced, she fell asleep clutching them to her breast…
…whispering sweet hallelujahs
for all the miles they had shared,
and would in all their ahead days walk,
promising – until death do us part!
She loved her shoes with complete abandon
and imagined they would always be as comfortable
as the day she first placed them upon her trusting feet-
each day praying these shoes would always love her in return;
with tenderness, truth, and above all else, never hurting her.
But the years went by, and those beautiful shoes began to wear.
With time, they lost their gloss, and the leather cracked and hardened.
She noticed, one morning, a tiny droplet of blood upon her sock;
Later, a small cut upon her heel, a new pain within her heart.
Yet still, devoted, she continued to wear them
though at night she began setting them beside her bed.
In the final year, she wept looking at these shoes;
they were now ugly shoes, painful shoes.
“These shoes,” she tearfully whispered,
“will never carry me to where I need to go.”
She could tell in other’s eyes that they
were glad these were her shoes and not theirs.
They never talked about her shoes.
They looked away in embarrassed empathy.
To learn how awful her shoes were might make them
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
She began, for the first time, to hate her shoes;
with guilt at first, then with an increasing passion
until one day an awareness swept through her thoughts:
“I deserve a better pair of shoes.”
She looked around, and for the first time understood
that she was not the only one who wore those shoes.
“There are many pairs in this world,” she thought.
I can either learn how to walk in them, timidly,
so they don’t hurt quite as much…
“…or I can throw them away.”
And she began to plan.
“No woman deserves to wear these shoes,” she cried.
So for the final few months, she gathered her courage
…..to throw them away.
Ironically, it was these shoes
that had made her a stronger woman.
These shoes had given her the strength to face anything.
They helped make her who she now was.
One day, she slipped them on a final time
feeling the worn leather against her savaged foot;
then, flooded with the intensity of love one can only feel
knowing love is forever lost…she kissed the shoe goodbye.
When the time was right, she took her shoes to a secluded ravine
kissed them, and tossed them…like an old pair of shoes,
into an abyss.
The shoes lay there broken, tattered, worn and useless.
The shoes could not speak of the love they held for the woman
For its tongue was torn.
Left to decay with nothing but the scent of the woman’s
tender hands scenting its laces, slowly fading.
As soon as the shoes were disposed of
she went barefoot into tomorrow, pain-free
and dancing and singing:
“I will forever walk the bare feet
of a woman who has lost her shoes!”
But in exactly one year, she slipped on another pair,
happy and in love again, dancing and laughing once more...
hoping against hope, forgetting old shoes,
willing with all her heart for this shiny new pair to carry her home.
All the dreams I dreamt
Will vanish like the morning fog
When at last I awaken,
And something tells me that day is come.
Still that final goodbye echoes fresh—
Oh, how we, both she and I
First kissed as the sun went down.
Will she ever return? I cannot say.
The door creaks.
A sudden whiff of the lost and familiar…
A day with her lost among the days without.
Once more the door creaks.
Who is it?
I have no voice left;
The last candle is almost out.
DELANEY “LANEY” ANN BROWN
We have all been following the courageous battle of Laney and her family this past month, and are deeply saddened to learn that this precious young child was called home to heaven this Christmas Day, 2013.
“December 25, 2013– on this chilled and grief-filled date, the gates of Heaven were flung wide open
as God embraced Delaney Ann Brown and welcomed her home again.”
The sun arose this winter day –
Across the world the children played.
Homes echoing with carefree glee,
As Christmas day was meant to be.
Each parent dreams of such a vision –
‘Til life injects its cruel revision.
Yet, like a child’s lost innocence,
Cherished and held in reverence –
In just one moment swept away
No sympathy for child’s play.
Into her life a darkness came;
Into our own, an infinite pain.
Our hearts now filled with an empty space –
of sweet Laney and her joy-filled face!
Malevolence came and stole her future,
A wound too big for mending sutures.
We heard the sounds of angels cry –
The day we watched this child die.
We swallow hard; prayed harder still –
Our heartbeats faltered against our will.
The deafening blast of pure insanity
We’ve lost the best of our humanity!
A nation mourns with silent tongues
The senseless death of she so young.
The doctors did their very best –
Nurses offered up their loving breast
To shield from cancer’s savage blow –
To buy this young one time to grow.
But she slipped away, lest we forget…
Upon her memory, no sun will set.
Sweet Laney lost and taken away
Beneath the sun of Christmas day.
We are lost within an anguished grief,
As even celestial angels weep.
Impeccant cherub laid to rest;
God took from us our very best.
The loss we feel is real and deep,
The pain forever ours to keep.
No answers to the question, “Why?”
Our babies were not meant to die.
So, brush away our tortured tears;
this truth is too demanding,
and whisper in our silent ears
some prayer of understanding.
Laney’s star now shines above,
Eternal bright and beaming love.
He was a lover of street prostitutes;
not the sable-wrapped uptown girls
bathed in Chanel No.5 and punishing Daddy
by selling their tight-toned wares retail,
but rather those wholesale working-class girls
perfumed by the sweat of their labors;
standing beneath broken streetlights at 2 a.m.,
in cheap, colorful makeup and Wal-Mart lingerie,
with asses bubbling back and semi-flaccid breasts;
those colorful painted whores of the night.
In his youth, he had been scorched by the beautiful
and he would never again have the fevered yearning
of lying with flesh more pliant and comely.
Street-walkers fed his pathos and filled his inner void.
They would let him kiss them on the mouth,
and wouldn’t complain when he couldn’t get hard
because of too much beer and whiskey.
They’d always wait patiently, filing their nails,
chewing open-mouthed wads of gum –
but most of all, they would never, ever
fill the silence with meaning-less chatter.
If he couldn’t function, they didn’t condemn him,
but would play with themselves upon request
so at least the failing of the hour felt sexy.
Most of all, they didn’t lie!
They wouldn’t tell him what a great lover he was
or offer up false platitudes on his endowment;
They used their real names and would share their coke
for an extra twenty-five, and he would pour them full shots.
Sometimes, he would write beautiful sonnets for them
and they would genuinely be moved to tears.
If the sex was lousy, they took it in stride and didn’t bitch.
They didn’t conspicuously spit into folded Kleenex
or stuff their mouths with wads of spearmint gum
after he had come, just to lose the taste of him.
Rather, they swallowed because they, too, didn’t care
if they got one more filthy, fucking disease.
They were like him; defeated and empty,
just grateful not to be judged and discarded
like yesterday’s rotten fruit.
Pressed beneath the broken rhythms of solitude
Stumbling drunk within intoxicated wavy parallels
Of self-derision and unbridled rage against lost time
A shattered vessel of my mother’s dreams
Absent when the arch of forgiveness bends mercifully
Over purpose-broken and diminished men
My unwinding days a gentle push toward the grave
With nothing left to secure my grasp
Pulled asunder by the wrath of fallen angels
When the shadows of my sins, like a burial shroud
Wraps me tightly, a corpse descending
Into the darkened void of eternal sleep.
This, then is my slow descent; tossed upon a funeral pyre
Engulfed within damnation’s perpetual flame
Condemned for lack of conviction as the cold winds
Of judgment kick up and scatter my weightless ashes