The Ring by Marilyn Hacker

Her ring is in a safe-deposit box
with hundred-dollar bills and wills and deeds.
You used to hide my letters with the stock
certificates, unlock a room to read
those night thoughts in a vault under the bank
where we descend this noon: a painless loan
of cash from you to me, for which I thank
you, but tremble. Half as a joke, we sign
a promissory note on a looseleaf
page: odd, to see your name written with mine.
You fold that, file it in a plastic sleeve,
then rummage in the artefacts to find
and show me what you’ve just inherited:
your mother’s knuckle-duster diamond ring,
a fossil prism in a satin bed.
You model it. I see your hand shaking.
You ask me if I want to try it on
but I won’t put that diamond on my hand.

Once, I gave you a ring. You loaned me one.
What I borrowed that day has been returned.

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