The bee kissed my mother’s finger
just above her wedding band
and it was either the ring or the finger,
my father said later, so they chose
to save her finger, his hacksaw kissing
the white gold band just below where
the bee had perched, confused, my father
said, by my mother’s sweetness.
The buzz of the bee, the rasp of the saw,
it all raised a horrible racket
in my mother’s ears, but she couldn’t lift
her hands to cover them. “Hold your hand
still, Bertie,” my father said, intent
over the rise and fall of the blade, the flesh
on either side of the constricting band
white as a boil, the rest of the finger red
as a sausage. Afterwards, one half of the ring
was kept in my mother’s jewelry box, its story
taking the place of the other half, which was
There was no explanation
for what had become of it or how my father
was able to cut the ring without injuring
my mother’s finger, or how either of them
had felt, my father on his knees in a caricature
of proposal as he ravaged the ring he had worked
so hard to get her, my mother frantic with pain
and fright, or so I imagine. Sometimes she
would take that broken arc of gold from its box
and hold it in her warm hand and we children
would beg for the story. If my father was
around, he would make a joke: "It was either
the ring or the finger, the ring or the wife,
and we could always get another ring,"
but for the rest of her life my mother wore
no ring and she never would say if
they’d made the right choice.
© by Dave Marghoshes.
Used with the author’s permission.