Tied Up in Knots

by Daniel García Ordaz

Daniel Garcia Ordaz

They say a man named Harvey Kennedy invented
the plastic or metal tips on the ends of shoelaces (called “aglets”)
that keep them from falling apart.
But what does Harvey Kennedy know of my grandmother?

My Abuelita Fina taught me how to tie my shoes.
(Whose delicate hands or what monstrous machines
slipped synthetic socks over the lace tips
so consistently that I would not struggle
with split ends as I learned something new?)

I would get dizzy in the back of the car,
running late to church—last one in, first one out—
for looking down at my feet with the car in motion,
the kids always in the backseat—no seatbelts to tie us down.

Two bows, over, then under—no, under!—now pull!
(My fingers too small and too few.)
Her stern directions, lacked the rhythm and rhyme,
lacked the seamless poetry, the Simplicity in the tan delicate patterns,
her seamstress embroidery, her fine crocheting. Her—

Somewhere along the way we remember:
tying one’s shoes is like riding a bike or driving stick or getting over a break-up:
It’s the most difficult thing—until one day it’s not.
Tying on shoes becomes such second nature
that the process is forgot.

My Abuelita eventually succumbed to the patchwork quilt of dementia and Alzheimer’s,
forgot how to tie her own shoes,
forgot to repair the stiches of a life well-lived,
a life not rent even by widowhood but suddenly unraveling.
It became the most difficult thing to get her to remember
how to tie up the loose ends of her life.
It became the most difficult thing to get her to remember

Last updated August 02, 2022