This poem was inspired by a different poem I wrote while at the USHMM in Washington, DC. In the museum, there is a room with a pathway down the middle. On each side is a pile of shoes taken from people as they arrived at concentration camps. This was inspired by my journey through that room.
At the top of the pile-
Little black flats with little leather caps
On the toes. Just like mine.
They must have gleamed like stars at midnight
When she slipped them on her feet
In the store.
She must have twirled, a dancer with
Tip-toes extended, catching the light
In the mirror.
Their little leather tips must have twinkled
In the sun, wet with rain, black in night
On her journeys—
—til the last—
“Take off your pretty shoes, my dear;
Put them here, together, so they don’t get lost-
My shoes feel strange on my feet.
~ Chani Grossman