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SELLING HER ENGAGEMENT RING, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: You'd have thought her diamond was set in my flesh
Last Line: Wahpeton - mandan - medora - to vanishing point.
Subject(s): Jewelry & Jewelers; Legacies; Mothers & Daughters

You'd have thought her diamond was set in my flesh
it cost me so much to sell it.
They had me look at it through the loupe to see
how the facets had been chipped
by the marriage it foreshadowed.

But I could not wear the purchase of her domestication
for which she bartered small prairie towns,
clutches of clapboard adrift on the green swell of wheat,
shabby hotels which creaked
room to room of harrow and hosiery salesmen,
as she worked out the pitch
for the next Farmers' Association
selling Chautauqua lectures across the plain.

I push her diamond across
the jeweler's glass counter
exchange her bribe for an amethyst
to wear on my wedding bone
to wear on the hand that bears the age spot on the vein
exactly where it was on hers -
her gift to me as sure as the black spot
Blind Pew gave Bill in Treasure Island.

My stone lays its bruise
of color on my hand as I smooth
maps across the dining-room table
choosing my route, a punctuation of prairie towns -
Wahpeton - Mandan - Medora - to vanishing point.

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