Last night I found the earrings I was wearing when you died.
I’ll never wear them again, but I can’t throw them away.
No, I know. It doesn’t make sense to me either. You’re right. It is silly.
Even so, back into the velvet presentation box they go, those dainty
little onyx harbingers of death, the pair of pretty witnesses
who watched you take your final breath.
I can’t throw them away, but I’ll never wear them again.
I’m afraid that, if I did, then somebody I love would instantly
drop dead and I would hear myself, say to myself,
I told you so, in a voice that I didn’t know I owned.
These earrings had already seen too much—the worst break-up,
a sexual assault—traumatic memories cling to the clasps like rust,
and so they must stay hidden away, along with the silver bracelet I wore
when I lowered your banana-leaf urn into the earth of your hometown.
I don’t wear much jewellery anymore, only this too-big skeleton
watch, forever heavy on my left wrist, that tallies the time I’ve lived
without you, and ticks, ever closer to our reunion—soon, the hands say,
soon. The lid snaps shut, and the box is returned to the highest shelf,
to its worldly perch, to rest, to forget; to gather skin, dust.
Originally published by Rust+Moth (Autumn 2022).