In my work, my gloves wear through,
revealing skin, knuckles, fingernails
worn tough by this regular grind.
Always the first to break through
is my wedding ring, which looks
at first sight, like
a golden worm,
cresting the surface
of rich garden earth after a rain,
or the first streak of morning
cracking the darkness of night.
This comforts me while I work,
when the drear overtakes the mind,
any thought you’ve once had blanches
and that old stiffness rises and plateaus
and fingers shudder and want to quit
and callus (mercifully achieved) splits,
opening a seam of deep pink,
the rebirth of pain once overcome.
Seeing the ring, I remember why I work—
the ring not being my wife, herself
(my wife much more brilliant, though
just as scuffed from work of her own)
but something to keep with me, to catch
my eye at an odd glance with a glimmer,
to elicit a smile I forgot I had.
I'm not worried about my wedding ring
getting scuffed up, not really,
this soft metal with the steel that abrades it—
after all the ring is just a ring.
And what it
signifies, what it
proves day in day out
is much, much stronger than steel.