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While Sitting in Church, I Learn to Tie My Shoes

Nylon laces slither numbly between my fingers
to the sound of mothers hushing, swaying, their bucket-hatted babies.

Coils of whitish cord elude my unwieldy fingers,
preferring to loll feebly across the tan-flecked tile.

But today— a bow. She curtsies to me,
extending spindly arms outward, humbled.

I tie my shoes, crouching raccoon-like beside the kneeler
biting my lip, among the stale Cheerios & grass clippings

dragged inside against their will, & conspiring
with the Sunday dew to squawk against the tile in protest.

Perched between pews, I trace the spidery wood-grains
& study the trouser-wrinkles where my father’s knee is bent.

The priest has words like shoelaces: they swirl & slide
in long, fragile chains around between & through my ears

while my father leads my finger along the lines of a hymn,
accenting each period & comma with an extra, comic, jab.
Posted 01/11/10
Louisa Diodato is an M.F.A. student at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she holds the Martha Meier Renk Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in Poetry. Her work to date has appeared in Poet Lore, the Evansville Review, and the Albion Review.
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