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Clasp

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You get used to it,
she said, meaning the delicate

mechanism of the diamond
drop passed on from her mother.

She was fastening the clasp
around my neck, meaning

preparing me for the fumbling
that inheritance presents, meaning

death. You get used to it, she
said, meaning being inserted

into the dark and learning to call
it something elsethe way

of all flesh, for instance. It’s
a box clasp: you slip a spring

into a box-like feature,
an 18th-century design modeled

after millennia of catches,
because the desire to hold

fast what we hold
dear is as old as sanity.

Great griefs are antidotes
for lesser sorrows. We patch

up loss with proverbs.
My hand goes absent-

mindedly to my throat,
as hers did, as her

mother’s did,  searching
out the tear-shaped

drop: I’m not gone yet.

 

This poem appeared in the October 25, 2012 issue of the magazine.

 

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