We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Poetry and Medicine |

Learning to Tie My Shoes

Patrick L. Clary, MD
JAMA. 2009;302(10):1040. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1225.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


At the end of his first school physical at my office
more than twenty years ago, the boy
noticed my shoes were coming untied.
He was the fragile X syndrome, last on my schedule so he’d get more time.
With no acute problems and only a handful of the stigmata,
our visit was unexpectedly brief: mild developmental delay,
the ears, the heart, double joints, flat feet.
No sore throats or headaches had walked in for urgent care.
When he offered to teach me how to tie a better bow,
his beautiful mother nodded, and I accepted.
First the simple-knot, like always,
one end of the shoelace will be shorter—
pinch that into a loop and wrap the long end around twice,
twice is the secret that makes it a better bow.
Pull the second loop through, then tighten both like always, see?
I think of this small bent-over teacher with his big ears
when I put boots on to hike over broken ground,
or dress formally for a ballroom or a poetry reading,
grateful for shoelaces I know I won't trip over.
If he is alive now he is nearly the age I was
when he taught me to tie my shoes.
I like to think he is still teaching others
how to grasp that short end.


Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Related Collections