Wedding ring is to take off as crash is to land

Materialized by Shannan Mann on Monday, March 20th 2023.

There is no word for divorce in my language. The Vedas describe nine kinds of marriage. The man I called my husband in three countries for seven years has asked me to return the ring. In the voice of someone who hopes for refusal. I want time. I need soap. The ring is not dirty. It’s stuck. Fingers swell with ennui after marriage. I’ve kept the gold looming behind the bright cold white in linoleum-clean condition even though rhodium’s chipped in between three diamonds. One can only see it if they make the ring their third eye. Insignificant, the damage. In the bathroom mirror, my face for a flash is painted again in turmeric, sandalwood, ash. I want to ask him if he remembers how the mandap smoke reddened my eyes and I held his hand beneath the pink and silver knot between us. How each time the priest paused I whispered, are we married now? Or did I say yet? I lather lemon soap around my finger and rub the edges, creating space between flesh and metal. The fire of our marriage now burns under tap water. Our faces wreathed in rose garlands, sweat, promise. I turn the ring on my finger until it quietly, finally drops, dancing around the basin rim, threatening vanishment. My reflex picks the ring. The faucet continues to bleed its song into the porcelain bowl. The ring in my hand, its memory still circling the end of my ring finger as a tanline. I perch the gold beside the mirror so it looks like two rings touching — almost an infinity, but because of glass mere zeroes.

Shannan Mann is an Indian-Canadian writer, mother to a two year old daughter, and a full-time student. She has been awarded the Palette Love and Eros Prize, Foster Poetry Prize, and Peatsmoke Summer Contest. She was a finalist for the Rattle Poetry Prize, Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize and Frontier Award for New Poets. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Ocotillo Review, Strange Horizons, Humber Literary Review, Deadlands and elsewhere. You can find her at