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Steve Fellner

          after reading in a report of the slaying of Matthew Shepard that the
          murderer used Shepard’s own shoelaces to tie his feet to the fence
          where he was left to die

For at least three weeks,
I could not bring myself

to tie my own shoes. So
I wore Birkenstocks,

which chafed my feet. I
did not complain.

A friend of mine expresses her
joy over having kids

as often as I think about
you, Matthew. In other words: a bit

too habitually although she means
well. As I do. This is not

what I should wonder: why did they
take the time to remove

your shoes? Did the clean-up
workers (and are there even such people)

rip the laces in one bold
stroke or did someone take the time

to unlace them as carefully
as you would a Christmas present?

I am in a childless relationship
with a man who has infinite

patience for my temper tantrums
and overall bratty ways. Once

he met my friend and arm-
wrestled her children.

He did not let them win. I loved
him for that. Later he shared our

private dream: basking in the happiness
of tying your son’s shoes

on the first day of school,
knowing that he will march

into the world safe and protected
by a gesture

you always take for granted.

Steve Fellner

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