They sit and speak of jewelry,
rings, chains, bracelets, and hoops.
They talk about who did this and who made that
as if these things are art.
They are art, actually,
but of a form about which I know little.
They talk about what this is made of and say things like
“You would not believe the deal I got on this,”
and my right hand sits atop my left hand,
and I am silent.
Their conversation exhausted, they ask me,
“What kind of jewelry do you wear?”
My right hand leaves its post,
and my left hand is exposed.
The pinkie ring that is uncovered has not been
hidden out of shame or paranoia, but out of pride.
“I only wear this. It is a shaped and sculpted nut
that fell from a pine tree in southern Mexico.
I got it for a buck-fifty
in the zócalo, the city square, in Mexico City.
I bought it from indigenous rebels, Zapatistas,
from the state of Chiapas,
who have held a nation’s army at bay
for nearly a decade
and who were dancing for rain…
I wrote this right after that first trip to Mexico. I loved that ring. And here is how my life was structured in those days. I wrote this poem in one downtown bar in Charleston, and then I lost in another a few months later. Oh well, I got the poem.