Sunday, July 13, 2008

Claddagh

One of my prompts from Greg was to write about an object for which I had great affection. I don't have many (I mean, I love my books, but I can rid myself of most of them without tears). The few things that came to mind were Duchess, a stuffed white persian cat my Nana got me when I was 5 (she is currently in my closet so Otto the Basset Hound of Doom does not eat her), a Claddagh ring I received as a baby from my grandfather that I never take off...I'm sure I could come up with others if pressed, but these are really my most prized possessions. (A monetarily worthless old grayed stuffed animal and an un-bejeweled ring that would impress no one, I'm sure. I need to work on hoarding better stuff, I suppose.) A bud vase I received from my father when I was very young was on this list, but it fell and smashed when I was in my teens. (And yes, I'm still devastated about that.)


This is also not to say I don't have anything else of value - my mother has given me more than I can count. Shout out to the mom-ster! Just not one particular object that holds everything she means to me.

Anyway, I felt silly writing about the cat (though the vase is likely a good idea, will set that aside for later consideration), so the ring won out. This is literally a first un-revised draft that I sat down and spat out. As always, all criticism welcome:


Claddagh


I’ve had it for as long as I can remember –

ten carat gold, no gems, diamond-cut to glitter.

He gave it to me when I was a baby;

I was too small to wear it so my mother kept it

in a velvet box in the safe dark of her dresser.

He asked about it when the cancer started

gnawing at his bones,

and I was allowed to wear it

on a chain around my neck.

I liked the weight knocking on my collarbone,

like a bevy of Irishmen

stippling a family history onto my heart,

a summons of Papa’s memory

when it warmed against my flesh.

I was proud to own something that glittered,

proud to call something precious mine,

I would slip my finger in

to the first knuckle and tug,

that reassuring circlet as good

as when Papa held my hand.

He was an O’Reilly.

The ring made me Irish, too, I was sure.

When the chain broke in gym class,

I defied the teachers and blackened my knees

until I found the ring camped out

befriending dustbunnies under the bleachers.

The very next day, I went to the kiosk

in the mall, and had it resized. Twenty years

ago, a man stretched the small band

to make a snug fit,

my flesh has had to move

to accommodate the gold,

no longer a perfect circle, dented

by softball and hard work. I can count

the number of times I’ve taken it off

on the same hand I wear it:

the skin beneath is young-girl white,

unblemished and always new.

2 comments:

Allison said...

I likey this poem. Something about the word kiosk jars me, but maybe it should be that way. And you have to write about the vase sometime. Great symbolism possibilities in the shattering.

Colleen said...

That's actually a good call. I didn't like 'kiosk' when i wrote it, but was in the frenzy of first draft. it's awkward, and it has to go.