Just as the swallows return, circling through the pastures,
just as pink blush tinges the apple blossoms, he asks her.
She stops kneading the bread, setting it aside, leaning
toward him. Both sets of blue eyes agree.
The question of rings comes quickly. Both know
scrimping, saving during country childhood days.
His grandmother, hearing the news, searches
her jewelry box, dusting off an old pinkie ring
with its circle of diamonds. Next to it, a stunning
gold band, the only remnant of tragic relationship.
Aunt Jenny, the highly organized one, who knows which
drawer holds a slim band inscribed June 1940, matching
this blue-eyed couple’s June dream. The Midwest
maternal grandmother shuffles toward her box,
at Silvercrest Assisted Living. Diligent at labeling, she pulls
out two sets of rings, safety-pinned together, with names
and dates, bringing her relatives fully into the picture.
While the newly engaged couple ride to the jeweler,
with precious overnighted packages, the ancient ones
ride along, a moneyed Philadelphia family who dearly loved
their summer home on the Maine coast, an aunt with
her irreparable marriage, Irish farmers who knew how to read
the sky, and the Detroit folks with thick German accents.
Stepping from the shadows of jewelry boxes, decades past,
hands extended with bands of gold,
for better or worse.
Each with garnered bits of wisdom,
collectively offering hope,
to these two
facing each other ,
in the rolling Virginia countryside,
on Sweet Providence Farm.