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July 2016, vol 12 no 2

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David Cobb

Ring-A-Ring O' Roses

wanders here and there
in different angles of light
the jewel's white star

If the bean-sized ruby had not had eighteen seed-sized diamonds set all around it like a frame, perhaps he could have worn the ring in a regular way. But surely it would look to others like a ring that might have adorned the middle finger of some Reinaissance grandee, and he was shy of being seen out with it. Even locked it away in a safe. Yet, once in a while, it nagged him to be used, if only for a day or two and in the privacy of his home. All the while tagged by it, unable to shake off the weird circumstances in which his mother-in-law had made him the present.

It had been during her third stay she had revealed her gift in all its glory. Had got round, smiling, to confessing the purposes of her two earlier visits. Sent by the family, living in their far-away Chinatown, to investigate him - he their alleged and frankly unwanted son-in-law. To sieve out his motives for marrying their daughter, to worm out the need for it to be a sudden covert wedding, to witness for herself how her daughter was being treated, if they were indeed properly married. Should her report be less than favourable, the family had begun to discuss solutions. Pay him off? Put something in his food? Hire assassins?

But she had given him a clean bill of marriage and now, as she made sure the gargantuan ring fitted, she was placing on him her seal of approval. The main stone, red as heart's blood, stood for atonement, its dithering white star a reminder he must not back-slide.

time out of time
forgetting where he put
the key to the safe