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Birthstone
by Elizabeth Kerper

In some stories the loss of the ruby ring
would bring the whole thing down in shards,
hammer to a mirror, the hero unable to summon
the wish-granter or placate the monster, the Beast
dying alone in his garden long before anyone
could make it through the enchanted wood,
but in your apartment there is just the losing
and the looking, then moving the bed, pressing
one eye at a time to the gap where the floorboards
warped years ago, where the ring must surely
have fallen. Then giving up, collapsing

on the bed, unmoored in the center of the room,
feet on your pillow, head toward the window, watching
snow like dark static against the orange street light.
Then resignation, then calm, as if you have finally
mastered the magic trick your father tried to teach you
as a girl, how to transform a bed into a boat and the dark
into a placid ocean instead of a tide pool teeming
with every species of fear. Tonight you feel the people

who lived in this space before you the way you felt ghosts
then and surely you are not the first to lose something here.
Imagine the ring nestled in the quicksilver chain of a vanished
bracelet or against the jagged blade of already-replaced keys,
surely you walk barefoot every day above so much
searched for, then abandoned. Now you think
of the women of your family who wore the ring before you,
now you think of the girl who will come to you someday,
daughter or great-niece, promised this sign of the month
of her birth, how she will hold out her hands and how you
will have nothing to give her except your own.

IMAGE: “The Ring” by John William Godward (1898).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While this poem written about the period of time in which I was convinced that my ring was gone for good, that did not turn out be its actual fate—a month after I dropped and lost it, my mother visited me and spotted it in my bookshelf, snagged on the back row of some books shelved two-deep. Moral of the story: nothing is ever really lost unless your mom can’t find it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Elizabeth Kerper
 
lives in Chicago and graduated from DePaul University with a BA in English literature. Her work has appeared in the Nancy Drew Anthology from Silver Birch Press, as well as in Eclectica, NEAT, Midwestern Gothic, and No Assholes Literary Magazine, where she is a contributing editor.