by Jon Adler


Ropes on the hands and feet of my friends

Wrapped around and oozing from

Stretching like snakes, up and down, from them

to the places they belong


They pour from heads, and ears, and arms and legs

Stretching from where they are to where they were

They span miles and counties and cities

And when my friends travel, they stretch across states


Ropes in bedrooms, ropes in the kitchen,

ropes lying across highways, and asphalt, and driveways

Snaking into cars they inherited

From older sisters who left their own ropes in the car,  

And in the bedrooms they used to share.

“My ropes were here first; I remember when you were born.”

Ropes that cross each other

Snaking memories.


When they left home, they make new ropes, but they keep the old.

They love their ropes, and they esteem them.

Where the ropes go, they will follow;

Where the ropes lodge, they will lodge again;

Their people are still their people,

Their God will remain their God.


The ropes of memory set themselves, and the knots take counsel together

Against the Lord and against his anointed, saying

Let us break their bonds in pieces

And cast away their chords from us


Theirs is a freedom inside the ropes

Theirs is the ropey comfort of knowing where to return


Where are my ropes

If I cannot see them, who is to say they are

How can I, like the blind young prophet

Have Elisha pray for me

See the hordes of ropes around me, and believe

Believe, believe, believe-believe-believe

Thumbnail image by Walker Smith.