The Pawn Shop
I’ve been shining gems, all my life:
Gold chains, the graduation opal.
Lowering them in on the ammonia tray,
dazzled by prism beauty, inhaling their cleanliness—
These were items of principle:
Relatives pierced me with smooth studs
and a Mexican-made Italian Horn of Plenty.
(I wore it under a ripped t-shirt
and wrote unmarketable poetry).
I am a woman wading
up through the smells, oils, the face-pack apologies
to a visual strangeness:
the listless, silver, green-going things.
The stiff men, the ties that choke them.
I held the gloved palms
and saw the room darken at my own unjewelled image in the mirror.
For the talking piece of earth, hands of grain
for the oyster eyes, their pearl-worth,
I robbed my ring fingers.
Each cell heaved, returned to its previous chemistry.
In the forbidden river,
my limbs float upward in a pool of light
like a deep, rich, red boat rocking.
Lisa Richards earned her B.A. in English and Creative Writing from U.C.L.A., and her M.S.W. from U.S.C. She is a Board Certified Diplomat in Clinical Social Work, and has maintained a consulting practice in Southern California for over thirty years. She is published in her field and has presented at numerous conferences. Lisa received an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets. She recently won residencies from Turkey Land Cove Foundation, Hypatia-in-the-Woods, and University of Washington’s Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center. In 2012, Lisa co-authored Dear Mallory: Letters To a Teenage Girl Who Killed Herself (New Middle Press) following the 2011 suicide of her only child. Dear Mallory received an Honorable Mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was called “hauntingly candid” by The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dear Mallory has been added to the recommended reading list of the American Association of Suicidology, and is being used as a suicide prevention tool in schools and psychotherapy offices. Dear Mallory is also a resource for survivors of suicide loss. For more information, please go to http://www.dearmalloryletters
She is the author of Their Sobering Suicides (Finishing Line Press) available at amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Their-Soberingsuicides-Lisa-Richards/dp/194489988X