It’s a Tie

“I can make the x’s.”
It’s as far as my son will go,
tiny knots, past mistakes
our sneaker memories,
we count them like rosaries.
The laces stand attention
high overhead
and he crosses the two,
“Ta-dah,” he is proud
of his soldiering shoes.
And his grin marks the spot,
a treasure to bend down
feel over the hill,
as we go under the hill
make the elephant ear.
Circle round the thumb
I’ll never forget the joy
of helping him run.

Artwork: Andy Baker

by Joseph Stroud

Trying to tie my shoes, clumsy, not able to work out
the logic of it, fumbling, as my father stands there,
his anger growing over a son who can’t even do
this simplest thing for the first time, can’t even manage
the knot to keep his shoes on—You think someone’s
going to tie your shoes for you the rest of your life?—
No, I answer, forty-five years later, tying my shoe,
hands trembling with this memory. My father
and all those years of childhood not being able to work out
how he loved me, a knot so tight it has taken all my life
to untie.


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