Twenty one years old, I’d found
someone, an inappropriate man
with an unpredictable temper.
We planted tomatoes and sunflowers.
I hoped our love would grow.
His Italian grandmother
introduced me to artichokes.
His niece drew weddings
on luminous summer evenings.
Everyone admired my ring
its band of gold, its tiny stones.
What a lovely idea to be a wife!
A smiling doll, a ceaseless piece
of sandpaper to his roughness
cooking rice with peas and salmon
while he poured concrete.
Part of me dreamed while part of me dreaded.
I wanted to leave but had no excuse.
I teetered away from him at night
on a too small, borrowed bicycle
a blue stone in my pocket that he’d carved.
When my chance came, I took it.
Botany was my ticket north.
I memorized phyla, diagrammed nuclei,
was too busy to visit or phone.
I returned the ring to him.
The stone I returned to the ground.
The pretend I returned to the
dark place it came from.
*Originally published in Kalliope.