You can’t trust crazies with shoelaces
so we strung our feet together with zip-ties.
And don’t let us get ahold of a spork,
its prongs may bite at twitching wrists.
I didn’t have any shoes within regulation
(the buckles are almost as dangerous as sporks)
and my toes curled against the hospital-grade carpet
embarrassed to be so ill-endowed
of shoes, of sanity.
My mom wore sneakers just my size
and quietly her hands pulled
the laces loose through the parallel spaces
till they sat, two vacancies
for ten ashamed toes.
She pulled off her socks,
two cotton skins to keep me warm.
A nurse bent down and looped a plastic chain
where the laces used to be. I think her hands
were tender because she had seen
the procedural exchange, and my mother
walking away with
two buckles on her steady feet.
To K. Alden, the supplier of regulation footwear and the most astonishingly kind and brave woman I know.