One Follows the Other

Cal’s class ring, barely snug
despite the red yarn
wrapped around its band,
slips off her finger, clatters inside
the cast-iron basin.

She places it on the sideboard
holds on to its uneasy memory,
one she wraps around herself
in scathing moments
of doubt and lonely regret.

Details of their last conversation,
tinged with subterfuges
she did not know she was capable of,
bit down — hard — on the heels
of all that messy death and fog at Khe Sanh.

The choice had been hers alone to make.

Redemption, now, never once a possibility.

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