All of my rings have meanings; they speak in a silence of silver, a more significant version of strings tied to fingers, pressing particular memories and mantras into the flesh of my hands. Because my life and livelihood revolve around my fingers moving over keyboards, my hands are the best place to wear my reminders. On a first date, an old somebody asked me, "What do your rings mean?" I overinterpreted him; I thought his question was a sign that attention would be paid, that he had decided to speak my life's language. I am frequently guilty of overinterpreting. My father has recently coined a new noun, colliding my name with a habit he's warned me out of for decades.
Nearly a year ago, I traded in the silver band I'd been wearing on my right hand's middle finger, traded it in for a ring shaped like a tiny crown. My Lexington friend has the other half of this almost-matched set (hers is simply a band), and we wear them in solidarity against all the things we guard and guide each other through, and in hope of all the things we envision for ourselves and one another. Since our exchange, marking our turning 29, I have only rarely not worn my half of the pair. But today was one of those days.
The band I'd been wearing until last April is slim and silver, pressed with stars and a single moon. When I wear it, all three of my rings are from the same store and the same jewelry artist in Ithaca. The fat band on my left hand is for courage. The slim band on my right ring finger is for commitment; it is my doctoral ring, silver for now; I take it off for sleeping and doing dishes only. The star band was for solitude and hope. I bought it the week after having left the person to whom I'd thought I'd be married; I wore it to remind myself I'd chosen generously for myself, that bigger things were in store.
Today I wanted to wear the stars, and what I wanted turned out to be prescient. Today the richest things that happened to me were so strange and ambiguous and impossible that I cannot even write them, cannot put them in public, can only hint and sketch and puzzle them out even in my own startled and rattled mind. The right modifiers haven't debuted; the shape of the thing is still shaping itself; I laugh at myself in my skepticism, laugh at the revelation I felt and the reminder I've gotten and the knowledge I hold that what was least expected need not even be confirmed, need not even have happened, in order to have been what it was and to have done what it did. What I feel, more than anything, is gratitude.
Today I relearned why words always win me, why my life has been called this way, how its bounds are shifting and unsettling, how I'll soon be unintelligible perhaps even to myself if the epiphanies don't stop, if the exultation doesn't calm and sustain until indulgence is safe. Or safer. Safety seems unlikely, and I would likely flee it anyway.
"Reckon the haste of one wall burning," our visiting poet began, in the poem from which today's title comes and which you too should read. At the end of the day, his lines having rattled and rooted around in my mind since morning, I found myself facing the burning bush outside my building, watching it sit, seemingly so still, but knowing (we both know, the bush and I) that it's building up for the burst into blaze, the budding the leafing the greening, so soon. "A prayer for a new image, yes." "I will be the world, for a little while. As such waiting." I have no one reading that will account for these lines, no way yet to make their meaning to me knowable or known.
The poem that met me, startled me, on Tuesday turns out barely to have escaped being burnt.