“Garnet” by Anne Colwell

Photo Collage by Matthew Chase-Daniel, 2010.
(See also “Mei Lei” by Alena Dillon.)

Square-cut as a weight lifter’s jaw
And the hard red of congealed blood,
My grandmother’s garnet has nothing of glint,
Of sparkle.  It’s a stone of will.

Her hands in batter, bathwater,
Scrubbed down the spattered apron,
Hauling boxes of ketchup
To restaurants on her route, lifting
Children into beds, lifted in prayer
Behind two husbands’ coffins.
She willed the red ring
To my sister, whose birthstone is garnet,
Whose birthright’s this red.

The night I came to sleep on my sister’s couch,
Anemic, thin, after days of mornings
When I couldn’t lift even my small self
Out of bed, my sister slipped
The garnet on my hand.  Wear this, she said.



Anne Colwell has published a full-length collection of poetry, Believing Their Shadows (Word Press). Her chapbook, Father’s Occupation, Mother’s Maiden Name, won the National Women’s Press Association Prize for best book of verse published in 2007. She has published short stories in Octavo Magazine and The Delmarva Review. The University of Alabama Press published her book on the poems of Elizabeth Bishop, entitled “Inscrutable Houses: Metaphors of the Body in the Poems of Elizabeth Bishop.” An online chapbook of her poems appears in “The Poets” section of The Alsop Review. She has published individual poems and articles in a number of journals and quarterlies, including: Midwest Quarterly Review, Octavo, Southern Poetry Review, Eclectic Literary Forum, The California Quarterly and Dominion Review.

Read an interview with Anne here.