No honey, do not take off your rings.
Ask for the pat down before ever removing jewelry.
Said the lady in the navy on navy pant suit.
Lavender latex gloves. Peach palms. Clocked in grin.
She is right.
She knows what she is talking about.
These sorts of things, rings, tend to disappear. She said.
Leave your hands bare. Instead.
Of just that one finger lingering on that left hand.
A young couple of friends in the air.
Both their counters elsewhere.
For a time. Like siblings in the care
of their mutual employer. Her father.
Their boss. Our loss. Is his cost.
And he puts a smile on to bear it.
He bought the ring. We wear it.
An arena in which we follow behind the rich and share
conversations with our phones while we bypass strangers
none the stronger for learning their angers. Their plans.
Why they run. Full hands.
Through airports at eight o’clock on a Wednesday.
Morning. Maybe. Mourning. Maybe late for a wedding.
There may be a new ring of her own to put on upon landing.
Such a thing as mystery demands to be beyond understanding.
Just worn out. And never taken off.
Even if it keeps you from taking off.
Once you have put this ring on,
do not ever take it off,
Family has become something very different.
Not just from previous years or decades or generationally segregated nostalgia,
but in the way family influences our genes, the daily development of our minds,
the very temperament of our lives. All creatures, us included, are products
of the physical and social relationships of our species, and more specifically,
our immediate families. Products, and yet with every glitch and malfunction
the manufacturer is seldom contacted.
With therapists, friends, coworkers, neighbors sometimes,
we talk openly over bar stools, leaned on counters in office lounges,
even hosting weekly barbecues with entire streets and blocks of familiar strangers,
whose faces are known well, but whose hearts must remain dark.
Even with our closest oldest friends there is a line drawn, in life,
through memory, where we can no longer walk together,
and one must be led by the other.
Family, however, hosts no line, no fence, no division,
like in a forest, the sapling roots have been tangled
with mother and father’s foundation,
competing on equal terms with brother and sister,
in good seasons and dry. In family,
we all lead and follow sometimes,
even the old behind the children.
Some friends say more with silence than ever using words.
More than can be told has been heard while mouths remain closed.
Phone laying dark and quiet. But the secret is newly out.
I can hear you when you’re silent.
Those two true blue eyes have learned to shout.
And right, I was right all along. You and I get along,
but we have a working friendship.
A functional kinship. You and I are at our best
when we do not rest but work, and work regular.
Committed less to one another,
than one another’s interests.