Mama’s Ruby Ring

At 4, I asked Mama as she washed me if
I could have the ruby ring flowering
diamond petals when she died.
Hushed, she scrubbed and said yes.

Could I have the ruby ring flowering
a blood drop, waved in sweet water?
Hushed, she scrubbed and said yes.
The thought of her ring,

a blood drop waved in sweet water:
the moment I became human.
The thought of her ring
is an anchor to

the moment I became human.
Remembering Mama’s mortality
is an anchor to
personal responsibility.

Remembering her mortality
as she scrubbed my breastless chest—her
personal responsibility—
she was surprised by her baby.

As she scrubbed my breastless chest, her
hands became her mother’s;
Mama’s surprised by her baby
when she tells the story.

Her hands became her mother’s:
the palm lines that tell our future.
When Mama tells the story
the patterns of my fingerprints are

the palm lines that tell our future.
If my hands become unfamiliar,
the patterns of my fingerprints are
lost, and the ruby is just a rock.

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