Color No. 8

Here’s a change of pace from the usual poetry.


One of the only times I feel like a human being is when I’m polishing my shoes.

My collection is respectable. I tend to go English for boots, Italian for shoes. Kiton, Santoni, John Lobb, Edward Green. Always handmade. A lot of people don’t like the narrow toe box of Italian shoes. I am not one of those people.

This morning, however, I’m wearing American. By Alden of Middleborough, Massachusetts—shell cordovan nine-eyelet boots, cap-toe, plain, plaza last, Color No. 8.

Though I’ve spent time abroad, I consider myself quintessentially American.

I keep my shoe care supplies in a WWI-era ammunition box which my grandfather some decades ago had fashioned into a shinebox—complete with a cast-iron footrest fixed to its weathered hardwood lid.

From the box I retrieve his ancient horsehair brush, made by Melco of New York. I’ve never found another horsehair brush which could compete with his. I don’t know if that company still manufactures them, or even if it still exists, but a legacy of a kind lives on in this brush.

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