Incarnation – Suzanne Crain Miller

We always had to have a pair of red shoes. 

It didn’t matter that we didn’t want them. 

“I could never have any.” You told us. 

“I only had one pair of shoes when I was little. 

I had to wear those out before I could get new ones.” 

And this was how you mothered. 

Giving us what you wished you’d had, 

never asking what it was that we 

wanted or needed or craved, 

assuming that we’d love you for it. 

Not minding if we didn’t. 

For you’d grown up poor, 

in extreme poverty, at times even homeless. 

When I think of you, 

I imagine you as a cute, Shirley Temple curls 

kind of child lying on someone else’s couch,

looking up at the ceiling, daydreaming 

about the day when you’d have 

those red shoes you wanted, all the shoes you wanted. 

And I wasn’t alive very long before I realized

I was not so much your child, anyone’s child,  

as I was the very incarnation, 

the dream come to life, of a poor little girl’s imagination. 

And that there is nothing more dangerous to be.