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Two Lives, Two Rings
I lost my ruby ring on my wedding day
For years, I wore it on chain
Where it rested just above my breasts
Warmed y my skin, and warming my soul.
It was my grandmother’s ring, a treasure
From the days before rubies were grown
The deep wine red with tones of pink
That I had worn on my small finger
When I was nine
And attended her funeral.
The day I was married, I wanted to
Wear a necklace that matched my dress
And so removed my grandma’s ring, and
I never saw it again.
The stone was set in a delicate filigree of gold,
A intriguing braiding of supple metal
That reminds me of the nurse
Who stood behind me as I cried on the bed
And whisperingly braided my hair
As I held my dying fiance in my arms.
I was twenty-five then, and the thought
Of my life without him was a jagged precipice
Like the fifth floor window I had so briefly
Considered trying to leap out of
Before the death-message doctor could stop me.
And then, when I ran out of things to say in
Tear drowned and crumbling words
And you simply relaxed soundlessly into
The undiscovered country where I
Could not follow you.
Because I had promised him that I would live
And accept love if it were offered freely
I went on and accepted the love of
A dear friend, and the gift of our
One little boy, and then a second-
Born not breathing, terror replacing joy
Twelve days of unreal, breathhold living
Traveling the long road to the hospital NICU
Each and every day –
Until he died.
A year later, less five days
Our daughter’s cries wrung out
My tears of relief and joy
Although I would not trust that
She was here to stay
Until after she turned one.
Another ring lost, some years back
A simple sterling claddagh
with a purple glass gem
Meant, perhaps to be amethyst.
It was bought for pocket cash
At a farmer’s market on
The Erie Canal, on a whim.
It slipped off my finger while
I was tending our home, and,
Although I looked and looked
everywhere I thought it might be
It was simply gone, and I
Eventually accepted the fact.
The, two weeks ago,
My daughter came to me
In her sparkling, laughing way.
“Guess which hand, Mommy?”
And she knew I would guess left
Because I always do.
There on her palm, as though conjured
Lay the simple claddagh ring
Symbol of love, loyalty, and friendship
A gift now from my daughter to me
Just as she is a gift given from sorrow.
The ring had fallen into a corner
Back in her closet, and lay
A hidden treasure, unnoticed
For the years until she chose
To make a sleeping nest in there.
Life is the story of loves and losses
Some enormous, some trivial
All bringing feelings and memory
Touchstones for our humanity.
Some loves are seemingly
Torn from our lives without reason
Or regard for our grief and the raggedly
Ripped wound left behind.
And sometimes, another life and love
Our another symbol to cherish and cleave to
Are given to us, if we will be open
And not insist on seeing only
What we think ought to be.
Claddagh ring (Photo credit: Eddo Kloosterman)