How It Began

by Donna J. Long

His proposal was unexpected.  I leapt
delighted — yes — into his arms, eager
for pleasure legal & tender.  Shopping for

a diamond ring I discovered he had
so much money and a great desire
to buy the latest electronic — whatever —

for himself.  I said no, set on a stone
that wasn’t just.  He grumbled & was proud
how his parents exclaimed.  I have small hands

& it fit.  I can’t put my finger on why
I believed a gold ring on my finger
guaranteed we would succeed, suddenly

be resilient against temptations of
the flesh — in other words his to loan his —
but as if I owned it I took the blame

he offered.  I can say this: I shouldn’t have
paid for everything — the license, the justice
of the peace, the place, the meal, the rings

we exchanged with our vows.  At the time
he was broke & I told myself
I wanted it just so.  I wanted it

just so he would say “’til death do us part”
& “in sickness and in health.”  That part
I bought.  How useful rings are, you know,

the wheel, the noose, handcuffs, in the circus
girls riding round & round.  The rings
on my vanity remind me he left

a lot of stuff — paper, wood, linen, willow.