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Crossed Hands - George Held

How bare they looked, my mother’s hands,

Without her wedding ring, after she’d pulled

It off and placed it in a small envelope

And handed it to me, imploring,


“Please pawn it for whatever it will bring.

We’re broke and I no longer need this ring.”

Mom was pushing eighty and bedridden

With the virus that would bury her,


And Dad was long past the age when he could

Work, and, never more than sporadically

Employed, he had no savings to tide them

Over, and I was just a school teacher,


With no big bucks, so I didn’t make a fuss

But took the envelope from her withering

Hands and went to Emporium downtown

And got a couple hundred for the ring


And put the four Grants into the envelope

With four more of my own and returned

The gift to Mom, and she took it to her heart

And said, “You were always a good boy, Georgie,”


And before the year was out, she died,

And I made sure that in the coffin, hands

Crossed, Mom wore that same band upon her

Ring finger, a symbol of her dutiful life


Bio: George Held’s work has appeared in, among other periodicals, Blue Unicorn, Spring, Transference, and Two Cities Review and has received eleven Pushcart Prize nominations. Among his 22 books is the poetry chapbook Second Sight (2019); his forthcoming book, The Lucky Boy, collects nine of his short stories. He lives in Sag Harbor, NY.

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