The Jewels with Which to Make Do,
the Jewels That There Were

by ROSE McLARNEY

for Tarfia

The woman is wearing, with such style and intention, only one earring— she makes the half lost exquisite. Praise her. As we praise parks, what’s left of wilderness, and the literature of the diaspora. Give her the unmatched remainders of our pairs—one stud, one star, one single hoop, an actual diamond, antique, much iridescence, incomplete. Compliment her further by recalling that the forest was finest in its first growth— high canopies hung with the lobes of a multiplicity of leaves, chestnuts set in the prongs of pods, and below, made of birch bark’s silver and mud, a few homes built where their inhabitants belonged. Then, make your greatest admiration awareness that ears already so beautiful ought to have better: jewels in a complete set, presented in a box that opens to its landscape of velvet, opulent threads not yet asked to rise back from the crush of any touch.

ROSE McLARNEY has published two collections of poems, Its Day Being Gone (Penguin Books, 2014), a National Poetry Series winner, and The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books, 2012). She has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and Warren Wilson College, and won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry and Alligator Juniper’s 2011 National Poetry Prize. Her work appears in The Kenyon Review, Orion, Slate, New England Review, and Missouri Review. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and is currently Assistant Professor of Poetry at Oklahoma State University.