Ode to Bob the Shoe Man

By Enid Osborn

Bob lifts me by my armpits
onto a tiny couch, upholstered
in slick, cherry-red vinyl with fine
glitter beneath the surface, like the
backseat of a custom T-Bird.

He sets my foot on a chilly metal
scale and runs the thingy up and down
my inner arch. I giggle, but Bob
is all business, a doctor of little feet.
You’re growing fast, kiddo.
He dashes a note to himself, slips
the pencil behind his ear, and disappears
through a curtain to THE BACK ROOM,
where beautiful shoes await. My mother
browses nearby, while I meld to vinyl

and watch for that curtain to stir, dizzy
on epoxy-polish-saddle-soap-tanning-oil.
Did the curtain move? Did it? Just as
I’m about to give up, Bob emerges, deftly
balancing a tower of pastel boxes.

Now I am six. I sit in a kiddy chair.
Feet that wear saddle shoes get all
wiggly over Keds in Spring colors.
Bob opens each box, teases the tissue
like it might hold the shoe of my

dreams. Now I am twelve, taller
than the boys, big feet like a pup.
Bob watches me moon over a pair
of size fives. I think, My feet
will grow forever. I will crush tall buildings,

like Godzilla.
The Shoe Man
knows just what to say, and who to say it to:
When we want to model our ladies’ shoes,
he confides, leaning toward my mother,
we look for long, graceful feet, like hers.

Enid Osborn served as Poet Laureate of Santa Barbara from 2017 to 2019. The poems in When The Big Wind Comes (2015) take place during her childhood in Southeast New Mexico. She co-edited A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens, and has completed seven chapbooks and a new manuscript, Little Wakes. Also by this poet: "Nighthawk" and "If My Father Throws Me Up in the Air"