Early in my long marriage I would gaze

at the light radiance on my finger,

but without care I wore my rings at tasks,

in the muck of gardening, in fish scraping,

in tile scrubbing, often without gloves.

Twenty-five years grind down any marriage.

The grit — sharp surprises, jagged arguments,

debt, bankruptcy, and displacement.
In the Y pool I floated, knowing the weight

which all the years had layered down on us,

but I was on my way to a Ph.D.,

a swim before returning home from research,

a double respite from work and pressure.

In the water my ring shifting sparkle.

Later I ran from the bus for a magazine

and returned to engines rumbling.

Shimmering on my seat was a sequin.

I reached for it and touched hard, sharp stone.

I glanced down at the prongs on my finger.

I sat down, bus lurching forward, and gasped.

Lucky me, only my eyes had seen it.
I went back to Tiffany's and early days

when all was beautiful and bright.

A new setting and a new appraisal,

diamond and platinum do rise in value.

Fast forward eighteen years.  He defeated

cancer, found a new career, and was retired

by 9/11. We both earned new degrees,

but have the same job or cannot find one.

Yet we have been to Alaska, the Grand Canyon,

Mesa Verde, and we walked to the pool at Zion.

 I give scholarly papers each year on many topics,

from Santa Fe to Washington, D.C.

 Two thousand eleven — I am in L.A.

Before my convention I twist my ring

and discover a crack through the platinum,

but the diamond seems calm and stable.


At Tiffany's I realize I lack glam,

but I can afford a repair once more.

"Nearly lost the stone, too,"   says the jeweler;

"you wear the rings always: take them off gardening!"

How beautiful is my new ring! All gleam!

The diamond sits higher than I remember,

deep stars trembling light when I gesture.

I have been gardening, with gloves at times,

but I never slip the rings off my hand.

All seasons he and I entangle still--

our names intact on the simple band.

same stone, same two people deeply on fire.

Poems by Virginia Walker

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