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Gold gets all bashed up if you wear it on your finger. It gets cut and dented because it’s malleable and warm, and like a body it shows its character only after several years of what might be considered bad decisions. How much of a wedding ring gets rubbed away while doing the dishes or the gardening? How much is sloughed off along with skin cells? Is there gold in the dust of my house? I wonder.

My grandmother’s ring was worn smooth and thin, and when it broke she cried her eyes out, not because it reminded her of her husband, but because it had belonged to her mother. The gold was indifferent to the man she married, and to the man her mother had married. Nor had it any loyalty to the women who wore it. It was intent only on escaping, atom by atom, back into the earth.

Why then wear something so feckless? Why not wear titanium? One might say, why bother living? Why bother to disintegrate, to age? Who really wants no change, no harm done?

My grandmother died when we repaired her ring. When she saw how unmarked and new it was, she saw decades wiped away; she saw nullity in the perfect roundness of the ring. She wouldn’t put it on. She clutched her ring finger protectively, and shrank away from the idea of something so soulless and unspoiled. She curled up in bed and howled at the loss. She said she’d rather the ring was still broken.

When she died I saw all the pits and dents of her face, and when we buried her she returned to the ground, fleeing with the gold.

Ariadne Cass-Maran
From POTB Issue 12

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