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The little bandy-legged jeweler
with his wandering pale-blue eye
has just come back from Indonesia,
where he slept on the beach and bargained for fire opals.
He wants to sell me a slice of carnelian, set in silver,
warm as a rust-red autumn leaf.
“It frees self-expression; makes you magnetic.”
Gorgeous bullshit. But I sink my hands
up to the wrist in his tray,
where precious and semi-precious alike
are spilled like bright candies.
There’s the soft clink of amber against aquamarine,
lustrious glint of sky and flame
pick-axed out of deep earth. I can’t afford
anything here, I’m just rummaging,
embarrassed by this late-life
lust for shine. As if I could slap down a credit card
and buy back my youth,
or at least one last ruby sunset
to drape round my throat.
I hold a string of amethysts up to my collarbone.
There are wrinkles on my neck now,
rings of crinkled flesh like tree-markings,
one for each lived year. As for the rest, down below…
well, that’s the thing. And here is the heart
that wants the thing, the heart confounded
by what it can’t keep or let go–
insistent, persistent, flawed old heart,
yearning and pulsing, same as always.
Copyright 2020 Alison Luterman. From In the Time of Great Fires by Alison Luterman (Catamaran 2020).
Alison Luterman is a poet, essayist and playwright. She lives in Oakland, California.