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My Father Asks Me If I Have Any Rope

by Pat Daneman

I don’t. I wonder what he will use it for. 

In his kitchen are stacked cases

of bottled water, red beans, tuna. Everything 


is chipped or cracked—the edge of the counter, 

the floor tiles, a cup in the sink. The window 

has a hole that lets in a draft. Turns out he wants rope 


to tie his car door shut—front seat, passenger side.

His dog likes to ride there, and he doesn’t want her falling out.

You can get that fixed for good at the shop, I would tell him,


(no matter that the dog died last year) but I know 

that would only become the first sentence of a long conversation—

the mechanic is his cousin, there have been incidents—


one with gasoline and a rake, then something else 

with the cousin’s wife about the President. Here he comes, 

up from the basement with a big coil of rope over his shoulder, 


like he’s a Merchant Marine or a Teamster—someone 

with something big and important to fix.

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