An engagement present from my husband’s parents,
they seemed like something from a yearbook photograph.
I’d have preferred a wrought-iron pendant, costume
beads that caught the sunlight. Pearls were for them,

and I was always only a visitor in their world. He wished
I would call him “Dad,” but “Sam” was all I could get out.
It was hard to throw my arms around him, to kiss
his cheek. And not just because they thought me a hippie,

a witch who’d stolen their son’s car and stamp collection.
Pearls didn’t go with my corduroy smocks and long straight
black hair. They clashed with the hoops of onyx and abalone
in my ears. They might have gone with the suits I’d thrown away,
no longer a graduate student trying to please, but they weren’t
suitable for hiding in the trees with a poet or throwing up wine
after poetry readings. The pearls reminded me of the way
I’d once thought I was: studious but not wild, not interesting.

I put those pearls on last night, though, after finding them shoved
in a drawer like small eggs waiting to hatch. They didn’t seem ugly
and apt to choke but gentle and mild, as so little in my life is these days.
I slept in them and nothing else, as if they were a part of me.