The last time I wore that necklace was summer,
July 27, a night coiled in the dark of my body:
How I stepped into the bedroom to change
And found you already there, your fingers cool
On my slip, how easily you pushed me down
To the mattress on the floor, leaned over me and kissed me
Gently to urgently: the last time, it seems, that we were happy.
You knowing nothing yet and me hiding my silence,
we interrupted anticipation, went out, and
in the creased-corner blackness of the stuffy theater
watched a play together: four Twilight Zone episodes
back to back, with commercial intermissions.
Later we ate Greek food on Capital Hill, came home and
Made love. That was the day after I'd taken the test,
Before I told you, before we knew it together, and did
What we would do. Even now when I look back,
I want to hold us there in the dark, shared fear and
Consequence still undiscovered, as if even too late
I could somehow suspend the moment, the inner pearl
Rolling down its sluiceway inside me, as if
I could stop a meeting taking place.
Months later I found the necklace, dropped into a purse
When the night got too warm. All winter long the bag
Slumped on my dresser, near the flowered hatbox, earrings,
The brown bottle of perfume. And there within it: amber
Like the jellied roe dark in the pouch of a trout, darker gold
Than I had remembered. I went to pull it out but the string
Had broken, cool drops pooled in the bottom
of the bag. Each day now I fish the inner silk,
draw out one bead and set it on a teacup on the sill,
the one my grandmother gave me before she died, the way
you transfer your hopes to the living.