A Twist of Hemp

By | 1 July 1998

Not knowing a cloverleaf
from a half-hitch,
I sentimentalise ropes
and knots. Lariats
with their cunning
slipknot, the bound strands
of bowlines so furred
and stiff with salt they’ll never part;
even the drop of the hangman’s noose,
the knot pressed to the neck just so.

In the back of the removals van
I’d tie a dozen knots, granny smiths
and bows, when one would do,
but still my ropes went slack
and the load would shift
no matter how hard I pulled.
Later, I’d curl them round my elbow
and drape them from the rails
in anticipation of tomorrow.

All this connection and control,
the words unfurling with the anchor,
the twitch of the tug-o-war,
daisies coiled around a wrist,
or the twist of hemp before beheading,
the knots that tighten in your throat
and stomach, the love that won’t let go,
the tangle on the bedroom floor
that only a clasp knife can undo

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