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Boots 
 

by

Alice Frampton


snow sky –
I miss
the first flakes


In the middle of the living room carpet sits a newly waxed, royal
blue snowboard.  Kneeling over it, my son is anchoring his boot bindings at the required angles with special screws, a screw- driver, and wrench.  The back brace is relatively straight across the board, but the other is angled slightly toward the front tip.  This, I see, is how a snowboard works, but my mind leaps back twenty-two years.

At the age of three months, my son is sitting in his plastic infant
seat in the middle of the old hardwood floor.  He is my first child and I scrutinize his every move.  Is he smiling on time?  Where are those first teeth?  Will I know if something is wrong?
 

tiny fevered brow –
the tick of the clock
measuring the night


For two or three days now, I’ve been noticing that his feet point inward at a remarkable angle.  Is this normal?  I lift him from his chair and lay him on his back.  With his legs straight, the toes of his left foot overlap the toes of his right.  I have to check with the doctor.

Our physician confirms this is abnormal and sends us off to an orthopedic specialist.  There are no bone structure problems.  He talks about posture and prescribes “Dennis Brown Boots”.  To me this is a foreign language, but I bundle him up and march onward to the Physio Department of our local hospital.

The physiotherapist on duty smiles and leads us to a partitioned area and asks me to sit. She is young, early twenties, and petite.  From stacked shelves of equipment, she laboriously drags down two huge cardboard boxes filled to overflowing with pairs of boots, all sizes.  She sets them on the floor, one on either side of my chair.  The shoes are strangely shaped: totally straight with the front ends cut out, high-topped, and all a shade of smooth brown or dark tan.  She chatters on about catching the problem
early as I stare at the rest of the paraphernalia: a long metal bar with holes, straps, and screws.  What in the world is she thinking of putting on my baby?

Kneeling, she chooses a size of boots and fits them to my son’s feet.  His stockings protrude only slightly from the cut out part, for she’s left him room to grow.  Her hands are quick and adept, as if she’s done this many times.  This reassures me.  As she fastens the straps over the laces, she keeps up a steady flow of conversation.  She makes small gooing sounds and my son watches her and stays still.

When she finally stands, she takes him from my lap and lays him on his back on the exam table.  She asks me to hand her the bar and fasteners.  On the sole of each boot are threaded prongs in an arc.  As I stand beside her, she shows me how to fit the bar over the correct prong on one foot.  She explains that the specialist has prescribed outward, ninety-degree angles while he sleeps each night.  She secures the bar with a fastener she calls a wing nut, then she picks up his other foot.

Suddenly I realize this is quite an angle, but she turns the foot slowly and places the bar over the proper notch.  She is still babbling to my son in incoherent, soothing sounds and I commend her abilities.
 

autumn afternoon . . .
the glow
from her eyes


As we continue to talk, she recommends I cut the feet out of his sleepers or buy sleeping gowns so he can wear proper stockings inside the boots.  The boots are to be worn for three months.  If we should need a larger pair at any time, she says, please come in for refitting.
 

straight leaf rows –
the weight
of new boots


I look back at the size of the bindings on the snowboard and at my son’s ‘pleased with himself’ smile.  How the time has flown.  If only we’d had the foresight to invent snowboards twenty-two years ago.
 

size eleven boots –
twenty-two years the same
smile

 
 
 
 

INSIDE-OUT

by

Alice Frampton



 

his words end –
clear sky
full of stars
 
Now, at sun-up, I sit to write the song . . . endless questions about
why, while outside yesterday's garden project remains unfinished.
 
deep hole . . .
inside edges lined
with frost


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