The Ring

At the dinner table, I am sitting next to your husband. He
talks to the woman on his left. Across from me, you are
conversing with the man on your right. Seen and not heard,
I listen in on each conversation. Suddenly, I realize I am no
longer following your sentences. Your voice turns into a hum.
Then your face disappears...and I observe only the geometry
of your gestures, turnings, divigations--the suspensions of
your arms, the leanings of your elbows, the movements of
your wrists, the tilting of your hand. On your wedding finger
a ring is reflecting the radiant golden colors of flickering
candles--exploits and sufferings of shifting, prismatic light.
The finger turns. The colors disappear. I want them to come
back; and they do, with darker claustral hues. Your words are
slower, your voice deeper. An angel passes by, and everyone
is silent. Motionless, your fingers rest on the table. Once,
King Solomon ordered from his jeweller a ring that would
make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was
happy; on it were inscribed the words: "This too shall pass."
Someone proposes a toast: To Happiness! Your hand moves,
lifts up a glass; and around your finger a circle of flames rises
slowly to your lips.

Jonathan Cott
from Homelands


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