Helen Losse, Greater Than Any Ring

Helen Losse


As the older daughter,
her mother told her—
many, many times—

that she would receive
her mother’s ring
upon her mother’s passing.

She imagined that ring—
properly sized—
on the finger of her right

hand and how she would
sneak a glance it—
cherish it on the sly—

remembering stories
of how rations during WWII
affected even the social traditions

of engagement and marriage,
how her father had promised
more appropriate rings,

how her mother got those rings
at a later date. But the truth is,
ring-stories are oral history.


On the day she didn’t
get the ring, purple-black
flames rose hot from her belly.

Tears—deep as her soul—
engulfed, made her an over-
wrought child, but she could not

ignore her mother’s voice:
Greater than any ring
with a tiny emerald chip

serving as center
in a 3×3 grid
of 8 diamond chips

is your born-again,
God-given birthright
I prayed to raise you up to

So the daughter
offered the ring as a sacrifice
against family breach,

& as a backward example
to Esau, who should also
forgive his brother Jacob.

Author’s Comment: The story as I remember is, the older daughter gets the engagement ring, the younger the wedding ring. My sister remembers it differently, and she, by request of our mother, had possession of the ring. I think my sister thought I’d fight harder, I know my brother did, but I promised Mummy I would not fight about “things,” so I did not. I had to wear it while we divided other items; otherwise, I couldn’t describe it accurately. Central to my own healing, this poem has become my ring.

Bio: Helen Losse is the author of two full length poetry books, Seriously Dangerous (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Better With Friends (Rank Stranger Press, 2009) and three chapbooks. Her poems have been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and three times for a Best of the Net award, one of which was a finalist. She is currently working on her next book Facing a Lonely West: Poems About Loss.

19 thoughts on “Helen Losse, Greater Than Any Ring

  1. Yes, writing poems is healing, and reading them can be too. Love this:
    So the daughter
    offered the ring as a sacrifice
    against family breach,

  2. Helen, I thoroughly enjoyed this poem. I have been in this situation as well. Beautifully written, it reflects the sacrifices made for family .

  3. Helen, this poem moved me in a very personal way. I immediately connected to something I hadn’t thought about for years–thank you for that. Really great detail and images for me. LOVED:
    the daughter
    offered the ring as a sacrifice
    against family breach

    Thanks again for sharing your beautiful poetry.

  4. I enjoyed reading this poem, especially after our conversation about it last month. When my mother died, her wedding band and diamond engagement ring were lost somewhere between the morgue and the funeral home. I can’t imagine why anyone would have stolen them because the diamond was quite small and the gold band was worn as thin as a wire. I think the loss of the rings may have been for the best because she didn’t leave directions about who should inherit the rings. We were spared any conflict about the rings.

  5. Helen, such a moving poem. My mother had told me for years that i would get a gorgeous antique ring my father had given her when they both retired. She reminded me as the years passed from 1971 to 1989. I imagined it on my hand as my piece of her to keep near every day. An aid stole that ring and another when mother was dying. I grieved mother. I grieved the loss of the ring, but ……what can one do? You bring it all home to me. And I love how you gave it up as a breach against the conflict your mother would most want to avoid.

  6. This poem really does stand as a tribute to those things we do to keep peace, the compromises and the unsaid words. I have a few “rings” myself.

  7. Wonderful. I still have my mother’s engagement ring (never replaced by the “better” one she had anticipated)— Thank you.

  8. Helen, as one who didn’t get my grandmother’s ring she had promised me as the eldest grandchild, I sooooo identify with this poem. It was all I asked for and it mysteriously disappeared after her death. There is a star for you with your sacrifice to keep the peace. They knew there would be a battle with me! 😉

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