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.


      1. Oh, they look perfect. Christmas list updated. A pair for each of us. Nice that we live in a time when solutions are vast for most problems if we’re willing to embrace them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s often just finding them. I think this one took about 2 years, and all the time before I was walking around with these bloody stupid corkskrew elastic laces…

        And actually you realise that 90% of shoes are lace-up. Not something you’d normally give a monkey’s about, but it became something I found out. Hickies turn lace-ups into slip-ons. But if you’re buying as stocking fillers, make sure you get the matching shoe horns!
        I seriously hate about how I have intimate knowledge now of such trivial things.


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