The set is a stadium in whose parking lot
fears of losing one’s car are well-founded
and where personal effects that I carry
or wear such as the ring on my right-hand
ring finger, my wallet, all my money,
and even the orthotics in my shoes
threaten to dispossess me as I walk
around wondering where in the world
I parked my car, which isn’t really my car.
Because this is only a dream about loss,
not the reality that dreams refract,
I find myself on the lost-and-found floor
within the stadium’s dimly lit bowels
witnessing belt upon belt conveying
strangers’ things, pawed by other strangers,
who, in their vain pursuit of recovering
what they’ve lost in the disarray of goods,
reconcile themselves to what they find,
as if secondhand shoes, used household goods,
or drawers of yellowing handkerchiefs
could return all mourners to their right minds
if not quash our world’s collective grief.
A stranger myself, I mine the quarry
for the sterling silver ring I left behind
on a public restroom’s sink years ago,
forgetting my car and neglecting the purse
on my shoulder, its contents ripening
like fruit strangers might pluck or falling
onto the conveyor belt unbeknownst
to me, until I discover I’ve lost the ring
from my right hand while searching
for the other ring I liked half as much.
Resigned, I substitute a stranger’s ring
for the rings I’ve lost, as if the luggage
of a foreign traveler whose itinerary
I assume when imagination deserts me.
The stranger’s ring doesn’t feel right,
so I wear it the same way a widow wears
her husband’s wedding band on a chain
around her neck to remind herself of
the wife she once was, that other woman
whose family resemblance no mirror
persuades her is more than a coincidence.
Pen Pearson is the author of Bloomsbury’s Late Rose, a novel about Charlotte Mew, a poet in Edwardian London, which Chickadee Prince Books will publish in Fall 2019.