Rope & Bone

by Ginnah Howard

Rope & Bone


Sunday and Saturday.

That and This.


He said, "It was our finest hour."

She wept.


Speaking in tongues


they move in experimental spacesuits,

uneasy in the other's gravity.

(To say nothing of the difficulty of dancing.)


He can do anything:

come down the steepest place

from the top,

pull an engine,

take her there;

but he has a hard time balancing

with one hand on his jugular

and the other over his balls

while walking on diverging wires.


She's an X-cheerleader

with the possibilities of becoming

a Harpy

or Ma Joad





They meet on the Midway.

His arms leave her breathless.

He hits the ball to the top,

rings the bell,

and gives her the Kewpie Doll.



She's got nice tits

which she gives to him

along with "the best years of her life."



They marry:


She will wear lace and carry a bouquet of forgetmenots; he

will wear black.  They will have a brief honeymoon, move

to the edge, and then she will stand at the sink washing diapers,

waiting for him to come home and saying to herself, "Is this it?"

He will work at a job he does not like and be afraid he has missed

the last train to the Elysian Fields, but maybe not if he hurries. 

Then he won't be able to get the car started and it'll All be her



Alternate Endings:


She smokes, becomes thin, and drinks from a bitter cup,

pouring the dregs out day after day to someone similar.


He drinks and takes his comforts where he can.




She gathers the children together,

(whom the sins of both shall be visited upon later)

throws the stained mattress

up over the old Pontiac,

and heads out for godknowswhere.




They realize they're in the same tempest, grab a piece of debris,

hang on, spell each other, miraculously survive, are eternally

grateful, and mutually generous.


Alternate Trips:


They marry in the Amherst Chapel,

build a ranch in Delmar,

take the kids to the orthodontist,

have sex every other Saturday,

make a will,

and wait.