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By Jane Gibson


I forgot my rings.

They hang on the pointy glass thing

Beside the sink, diamonds trembling at the yawning disposal.

My fingertips stroke the place where they aren’t.


Fellow detainees glance at my knitting,

Or do they see my empty fingers

As I weave the ombre yarn through spaces

Unadorned by proof of status

And wonder if I left my rings at home.


Tap dancing with an icy towelette

Behind the thin floral curtain

I left my jewelry at home, I explain.

She looks at my bracelet, the gold chain ’round my neck.

It doesn’t matter, she says, leave your clothes on the chair.


Nothing from the waist up.

A hand—clad in rings of turquoise and silver

—offers a washed-thin gown

That I clamp shut with bare fingers.


Chill plexiglas irons the wrinkles from my breast

Into a smooth polka dot of pain.

A sneeze behind the lead wall, has she had her flu shot?

I avert my eyes. I am naked without my rings.


Forms signed, credit card violated,

Perhaps they made an extra copy to steal my identity

But why would they choose me,

An elderly lady without wedding rings.



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