For my first I gave him a soft tracing
of my neck. Remember how beautiful
I was then. My necklace encircled that
slender isthmus, tethered from my straight back,
passing the elegant pair of shoulders,
swooping down to traipse those undulations
where his eyes picnicked whenever he paused.
Whirr whirr whirr. I heard his pulse, whirr whirr whirr.
For my second I withdrew my favoured
digit and released the metal doughnut
to remind him of the cruel siege threat
of death that hung about and hemmed the dark room
in which I, a smoky nothing, wafted.
A worn ring cannot be seen entirely:
its integrity must be taken on
trust. It’s possible he thought I meant more.
For his third he wanted me to give him
a child but this I could not do. He was
kind to me, but kind of repulsive too.
I’d rather kiss a frog. To promise to kiss
is not the slimy deed, some promises
are to break. It’s not like I cheated,
I gave my promise and that was what he
wanted, I think, a sort of fantasy.
For my third, I gave him something he had
already. His name. It was what I call
a gift because it took him back. Win win.
We were partners. Like the ring, I was bound
to be hard and he was its empty heart.
Like the necklace, the gap between gesture
and reality, symbol and substance,
is as real as the loss. You’d have cheated too.
Promise to never tell my child.