Monday 11 April 2022


Because I’m a Naysayer

by Laura Ann Reed

My friend says, There are some stories
that shouldn’t be told,
as if they were sharp-
fanged, long-clawed furies, best stowed away
in a locked, casket-shaped box—everyone
better off.

Because I’m a naysayer I say, no,
and I tell her a tale about a garnet ring
in the form of a rosebud on a twining vine,
a ring my great aunt kept hidden in a shoe
when she escaped the Russian pogroms.
How she later gave it to my mother
who knew I longed to wear it on my hand
but shook her head—even when I pleaded,
even when I promised not to lose it.
Even when I begged.
How, when I was grown, I stole it
from her dresser drawer and how she found
my hiding place—under a pile of bright scarves
and stole it back. How we never spoke
of what we’d done.

I tell my friend how my mother’s hillside home
burned to ash in the Oakland firestorm,
how for days I scrounged in vain
through mounds of soot-choked dirt.

How she said, There’s a thing or two
about the ring, a story, you should know,
remind me
when we talk again.

How she called
a week before she died, and when
I asked, said she didn’t have the time.

* * * * *

Laura Ann Reed received a dual BA in French/Comparative Literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently completed Master’s Degree Programs in the Performing Arts, and Psychology. She was a dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to assuming the role of Leadership Development Trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She and her husband now reside in western Washington. Her work has been anthologized in How To Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope, and has appeared or is forthcoming in MacQueen’s QuinterlyThe Ekphrastic Review, and Willawaw, among other journals.

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