They put a noose in me—a knot, a nook for a neck to go through. Not just any neck, but almost any neck of the woods: north and south, west and east. Not just one race, though one race more than others; not just one supposèd crime, though rapists sell more papers than kidnappers, union organizers, seditionists, or cattle thieves. Not just men, though mostly men. I have held the breath of women, too, and children, whose necks are supple, who struggle more, who twitch the longest, because they harbor hope. I nick the quick right out of ’em. I try to do it swiftly, and I can, if the knot’s made fast. Sometimes they’re dead—burned, bullet-pricked, beaten to death with shovels or with bricks— before they get to where I’ve been uncoiled: a cedar, a bridge, a telephone pole. Sometimes a crowd takes strands of me for souvenirs. In another life of rope, I bound saints to the stake. Twine wasn’t made for this. I should be baling hay. I’d rather pull a bucket from a well, haul a rowboat to a dock, give an acrobat a path across the air. That’s a kinder life for a piece of string. I’d like to rig a mast up, and hear the sailors sing. Take me from this limb, or if you keep me here, tie me to an old tire, and let the children swing.