by Rebecca D. Higgins
The other day I ran across an old photo of my niece when she was little trying on a pair of my dad’s shoes. It made me think of a poem I wrote a long time ago back in the fall of 1985 when I was a student in college.
A cobbler sat upon his bench,
And with the greatest care,
He fashioned shoes in all designs
His customers would wear.
Each day he labored at his craft
And worked with tireless zeal
To make each shoe a perfect fit
From tip of toe to heel.
One day a youth burst through the door
And jangled loud the bell;
He gazed about the cobbler’s shop
Then gave a hearty yell.
“Good sir,” he cried, “I want some shoes–
The largest in the land;
I want to be a leader strong
And many men command.
“I want to leave a mark in life–
A footprint all can see;
And then I’ll have a name renowned
And great prosperity.”
So saying, he tried on some shoes–
The biggest that were mates–
Those size fourteens engulfed his feet
That measured only eights!
“But, son, . . .” the cobbler interposed. . . .
But would he listen? –No!
He bought the shoes and put them on,
And then he turned to go.
And shuffling, though he tried to strut,
He left the cobbler’s place;
But e’er he went a block, he tripped–
Fell flat upon his face!
The cobbler’s bell rang once again–
A girl slipped through the door;
She tiptoed to the cobbler’s side
And watched him do his chore.
At last he saw her standing there
And in a gentle voice
Asked, “What, my dear, will be the shoes
That you will make your choice?”
“Oh, sir,” she whispered as she blushed
And painted red each cheek,
“I’m insignificant and shy
And really, oh, so weak.
“I want a tiny pair of shoes
As small as small can be–
For I would die if anyone
Should ever notice me.”
She searched until she found the pair
That suited what she’d said;
She squeezed and tugged and panted–
The cobbler shook his head.
At last the shoes were on–
She paid the cobbler’s fee;
The last I heard, she had gone lame
And lived in agony.
But finally to the cobbler’s shop
An old man made his way;
The shoes upon his tired feet
Had seen a better day.
He smiled as the cobbler’s bell
Jingled a merry note;
He paused before a wooden peg
To hang his hat and coat.
Then to the cobbler this he said,
“I’ve come today, good friend,
Because my poor old shoes have passed
Beyond all hopes to mend.
“Just make a pair for my two feet–
The style you may choose;
Just so they fit is all I ask
Of my much-needed shoes.”
The cobbler set to work at once–
In thought his brows were knit;
He measured, cut, and stitched and nailed–
He made a perfect fit.
The old man left and did his tasks,
And everyone could tell
He filled his shoes. –Within, he knew
The cobbler’d made them well.
O Cobbler mine, Your skill is great–
You’re gracious and You’re wise;
You are the One who made my feet–
You know their shape and size.
So make my shoes a perfect fit
According to Your plan,
And may I wear them faithfully
To serve my fellowman.
And may I never e’er forget
The lesson I’ve been shown,
That if I wear another’s shoes,
Then who will wear my own?