An Offering

By John Reibetanz b. 1944 John Reibetanz
When a creature dies ... the flesh
and soft parts of the body rot quickly.
All that is left are the bones and teeth.
       (textbook entry on ‘fossils’)

Sometimes. You, mother,
dying, left what was hard first:
bones weeping into

your veins like flutes, teeth
vanished on some hospital
lunch tray. In your last

mute days you parted
with one more hard thing: the gold
ring I was to save

for my child. As your
hand offered that bright circle
(only seen as a

whole now, when empty)
did your thoughts reach, like mine, for
your first wedding ring?

You took that one off
when I was seven or eight
and sent it spinning

from a car window.
I can still feel the wet blades
of grass slipping through

my fingers, night dew
coming on, you and father
loud in the parked car.

I searched there as if
life spilled from a ring that lay
somewhere out of sight

but within reach, hid
where only the crickets knew.
I took the scraping

of their mating calls
for crying, as if they shared
loss—my childish heart

consoled by a soft
‘as if.’ The consolation
carries on: their song

(light as air, softer
than voices) plays through my thoughts
about that evening

and fills the lost ring’s
hollow with life’s most lasting
part, cries for new love.

“An Offering” © 2000 by John Reibetanz. Used by permission of Brick Books.

Source: Mining for Sun (Brick Books, 2000)

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Poet John Reibetanz b. 1944


Subjects Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

 John  Reibetanz


Born in New York City, poet John Reibetanz earned a BA in English from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, and an MA and a PhD in English language and literature from Princeton University. He is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Transformations (2006), Mining for Sun (2000), and Ashbourn (1986), as well as the critical study The Lear World (1977). His poetry has been included in several . . .

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SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Living, Relationships, Sorrow & Grieving, Death


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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