Zee said she knew school time was coming

when he brought out the ball of string.

He put one end on the tip of her big toe

and gently stretched it out

until it reached the back of her heel.

Then he snipped it off with his penknife

and put it in his pocket with ones

from her brother and sister.

Tomorrow he would go downtown

to the Red Parrot shoe store

and buy three pairs of brown lace-up oxfords.

Zee hated the clumsy shoes,

but knew she could not go with him

to pick out a pair she liked.

There was no place in their town

for little brown feet to try on shoes,

stand at the water fountain,

go to the Ladies Room.

She would almost have braved

the snubs and stares, the requests to leave

if she could have had a pair

of red and white saddle shoes.

Janet Taliaferro

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