They called her The Barefoot Contessa,
A tiara of gold graced her hair,
She was aloof and independent,
A homeless soul with an air.
On her frame and tiny shoulders,
Were layers of unmatched clothes,
And on her feet were open sandals,
That showed she wore no hose.
I became aware of her one Fall,
I saw her going through our trash,
And I wondered, as I watched her,
What set her on this path.
Was she once somebody's daughter?
And once somebody's wife?
If she'd had some kids, where were they?
She must be old; her hair was white.
She came on a regular basis,
Wednesdays - late in the day,
That's when our trash went out,
Our old stuff and throw-aways.
She went through each trash container,
Putting items in her cart,
Claiming treasures, as she found them,
Her actions broke my heart.
Once I tried to give her cash,
Money from my pocket,
She looked at me like I was rude,
As if I'd really lost it.
I watched her on her weekly quest,
Sometimes her pickings were quite good,
Other times she left with nothing,
Let down by the neighborhood.
Shortly, Fall turned into Winter,
Ice and snow were everywhere,
Yet, she still wore those open sandals,
And her poor toes were cold and bare.
At anything I offered her,
She'd look hurt and back away,
She'd not accept a gift from me,
Her pride (what else?) was in the way.
On our coldest day that winter,
When we went to zero and below,
I couldn't stand it any longer,
I must do something or explode.
So, to keep my lady warm,
I soon devised a plan,
I told no one about it,
And the next day my plan began.
I took my husband's fur-lined boots,
Which he hadn't worn in years,
I put them in the trash can,
And said, "So long, my dears."
Then, I took my old, wool coat,
Much too long and out of style,
It folded neatly on the boots,
I gave it a farewell smile.
Next, the piece de re'sistance,
My old, winter, dress-up hat,
And a hand-knit scarf and gloves,
Which all got goodbye pats.
I couldn't wait to put the trash out,
That day - the worst blizzard of the year,
I couldn't see through all that snow,
But,I learned later she was here.
The next week The Barefoot Contessa,
Appeared with her new boots and coat,
Her back seemed a little straighter,
And there was a scarf about her throat.
And on her head - that winter hat,
Plus - what else did I behold?
On top the hat, in all its glory,
Was her tiara made of gold.
I have another secret,
Which I never will reveal,
In the pocket of that old, wool coat,
I'd tucked two twenty dollar bills.
Oh, My Proud Barefoot Contessa,
Who would not accept my gifts of cash,
Your dignity has been preserved,
And your pride is still intact.
You couldn't know your crown of gold,
Would do us both much good,
Yet when our eyes met later on,
You and I both understood.
Virginia (Ginny) Ellis
I would like to thank JEAN FARROW for setting up
this page and allowing me to copy it here.