In my library, they support
a shelf of poetry as once they held
a few novels, a volume of Frost and always,
a Bible on the bookshelf-headboard
of my parents’ marriage bed.
The last of their possessions parceled out
among three daughters—my father’s
bronzed and mounted baby shoes,
given to me. Ten years after his death,
touching them, I trace the circle
of our lives.
As a child, I saw them as extravagant—
shiny and fine.
I know them now for what they are.
Each shoe affixed to its weighty base,
still preserved in all their worn glory,
worn-out in fact—sweet keepsakes, left
to my father, a bookish farmer’s son,
the fifth child of his family,
perhaps the fifth to wear them.
High-topped booties, burnished leather
crinkled with wear, collapsing at the ankles,
buttons missing and the right toe agape.
Given to him, the youngest child, and then
to me, also the youngest bookish one.
First published in The Penwood Review (Fall 2008)
Used here with the author’s permission.