SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

Ethel's Ring by Brook J. Sadler

The band does not form a closed loop.

Each end, in a dainty curve, bends

like the entrance to a formal garden—

two platinum pathways studded

with diamond stepping stones—

and circles the central diamond,

which, set by six small prongs,

rises like a modest fountain.

She never married, my mother says

when she gives it to me.

She worked and saved

and bought it for herself.

It is the day after my mother’s

last mammogram; the cancer is gone.

It is time to pass on an heirloom.

This small splash of light

on my finger illumines the room

and reflects us.

My mother has had three wedding

rings of her own. I have had none. A choice

few understand.

I wonder if Great Aunt Ethel hoped

the ring would deflect attention from men.

Or was it compensation

for a heart that had quietly broken?

Was it vanity sparkling on her finger?

Or a shield to her pride,

conversing in parlors among married women?

And what will it be for me?

I, who have no daughters or nieces.

I keep looking at the facets,


Will these diamonds be returned

to the dark from which they came?

Brook J. Sadler is a poet and professor of philosophy at the University of South Florida. Her poetry has appeared in many journals including The Cortland Review, ROAR, Tampa Review, Calamaro Magazine, Ms. Magazine, The Boiler Journal, and Mixitini Matrix. She is the happy recipient of a fellowship from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts.

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