Don’t Worry Maria,

Brenda Yates

you gave back the ring and though its absence

is blinding, those

raucous, puzzled, eagle-eyed friends flocking

to your unlit hand

will soon come away, still clucking arched

questions while

forgetting as we do how easily a symbol

empties of meaning,

changes back to itself—tulip, ivory, sable,

radium dial, on and on—

despite advertising. No one today trades

houses for flower bulbs,

and fact is, it rains diamonds on Neptune.

Which even De Beers

can’t buy all of, whatever visions its

founder used to have:

a white man who stood under Rhodesia’s

starry night skies wishing,

he said, to annex the heavens. Daily x-rays

replace the quarantines

and body searches that once found flakes or

pebbles in a worker’s

pocket, his hair, ear, nose or stool. The cost:

lashes. Split

skin bled into the very ground Africans were

forbidden to mine

or own, a history illuminated by dark-skinned

Rhodes Scholars.

Whichever side it arms, bloodstone blinks at

the sun: a guerrilla's

best friend, blind to its dark center. Meanwhile

it rains on Neptune,

falling, glittering, undoing Cecil Rhodes and

what remains of him

ensconced in monuments he built to himself.

Cartels can’t control

forever. Illusions die. Not-really-scarce stones,

man-mades, new finds

(alien or otherwise) won’t be worth killing

for. Rhodes put it at

four thousand years, not quite forever, he'd

be remembered. Perhaps

someone will remember, maybe even while

dumping a truckload of common-as-dirt

rocks to shore up

valuable coastal sands. Who’s to blame

if beachcombers

fling bracelets back into the sea, if fishermen

snag necklaces

and curse? If diamond is just another dirty

word. But, Maria,

I know you’ll understand how beaches

will then look

almost pretty, sparkling as they do with

no other meaning.

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Brenda Yates is a prize-winning author of Bodily Knowledge (Tebot Bach). Her reviews, interviews and poems can be found in Chaparral; The Tishman Review; KPFK Radio 90.7 (Why Poetry); The American Journal of Poetry; Mississippi Review; City of the Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry (University of Iowa Press); Angle of Reflection (Arctos Press); Manifest West (Western Press Books); The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee (Texas Review Press); Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California (Scarlet Tanager Books); Unmasked: Women Write about Sex and Intimacy after Fifty (Weeping Willow Books); and Local News: Poetry About Small Towns (MWPH Books) as well as journals in Ireland, the UK, Portugal, Israel, China and Australia.