Susan McLean: Fast And Loose

A centuries-old con game in which marks bet
on whether a knot is fast (i.e., will hold) or loose.
The knots are tied so that they can be released
or not by the con artist, so the mark always loses.

Grown children of divorce won’t start
a marriage that won’t last.
They won’t tear families apart,
like parents in the past.

Cherishing no illusions that
a new mate might be better,
they watch their vows of love go flat,
but hold fast to the letter.

If she’s annoyed when he shirks chores
or carps at what she spends,
on business trips she’ll even scores
by sleeping with new friends;

while he, once sex becomes routine,
may crave a varied diet:
if he can fool around unseen,
he’s more than keen to try it.

Both mates are startled and confused
when playtime ends in tears.
The French share knowing looks, amused.
They’ve played this game for years.