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.

Fall in the Midwest, my always-favorite season of the year. By the end of July or middle of August, I’m already looking forward to those refreshingly crisp, soul-soothing days of autumn. We were robbed, more than just a little bit, this time around though. There were a few achingly beautiful days, to be sure. For the most part, however, September and October were either way too warm – and humid – early on or miserably gloomy with harsh winds, overcast skies and damp, teeth-rattling cold, even a dusting or two of snow.

So when the opportunity presented itself, my sister Theresa and I took full advantage. Hubbies were both otherwise occupied so we decided a little gravel travel was called for. We travelled the back roads of Warren and Madison counties and stumbled upon some delightful discoveries. The temps were mild, the sky was oh-so-blue, there was no wind or breeze to speak of and the golden hour, she did not disappoint.