Laces | Shenan Prestwich


My clay-caked cords, my fraying friend,
I rub you between my forefinger and thumb
as I thread you through a different pair
of eyes: my single set of safety lines to tie together
all my shoes, my loose ends.
I can trace my history in you, recall the sound
of my own footsteps, with you twisting and curling
like paths and rivers snaking over
a map that keeps unfolding inch by inch.

I can share anything with myself,
like a double shot, or a double cheeseburger,
or a one-way ticket. I don’t own
a pair of cowboy boots, so this morning
I’ll arrive in Texas with two Doc Martins
shared between my feet, and between you,
my tightly-coiled cotton serpents
stitching together the elephant tarsals
molded around my heels in comfortable folds,
an armored tank upon my toes no spear can pierce,
at home anywhere
because home is where you can’t be crushed
by falling bowling balls or boulders or toppling
amplifiers in a honky-tonk.

there are always twisted legs entwining
like tree roots, milky tides of cotton rising,
half-carafes of Montepulciano
left out on the table.
But you were not made to linger
in these places infinitely.
We were always meant to be
two trusted travelers, confederates,
sheltering each other’s rib and bearing
one another faithfully, not knowing
which town would be the one
each of us would call our last.

I hope that when I lose you, it will be in a city
far from the center of the world,
far from soft loves and warm wine,
far away from radios playing:
a bar at the edge of town, light
and heat draining in the indigo hour,
where I’ll leave a tip and slip away
from my socks and leave them by the road
I’ll walk barefoot, before morning,
ears ringing, backed by low percussion
from night insects rubbing legs together
as my pink cutlet feet scrape the asphalt,
breathing something I share
with myself, or someone I’d been,
or someone else.

Shenan Prestwich is a Washington, DC-based poet, editor, serial hobby collector, and over-confident dancer. Her poems have been published in a wide variety of venues both online and in print, and she co-edits Prompt & Circumstance, a monthly prompt-centric source of creative literary kick-starting, along with it’s corresponding quarterly journal, Promptly. In addition to her literary pursuits, she enjoys long drives, fast bluegrass, old scotch, excessive hospitality, the great outdoors, good people, and bad karaoke. You can follow her adventures in all these things and more at

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