Breaking the ring by Megan Merchant

Do you remember time-outs in your room for flapping your trap,
the copy of How to Win Friends & Influence People slipped
under the door, the dinner cold until you’d read it whole
and came out a better person, the little pink radio that the black
Russian cat had its period on, which is how you learned
that womanhood was a hush of blood. Oh, you
had it coming. But when your parents left you along the road,
for being lippy, it was never for too long. They always circled
back. They held onto you—their ticket into heaven.
People, your mother promised, just naturally want to punch you
in the mouth
. So why not—later in life, when you feel safe
enough to argue about imperfections with a man you love,
allow the moment to come to its crisis and throw your diamond
ring onto the car floor, testing its structure, its promise. And
when his anger responds, you unbuckle to apologize,
and retrieve it. When he slams on the brakes, it’s funny, right?
Just a little bump on your head. Just a few dots of blood. But,
oh you had it coming. And there you are, hushed, looking
back at the years you spent thinking your mother had done
a shit-job preparing you for this world.
Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ with her husband and two children. She holds an M.F.A. degree in International Creative Writing from UNLV and is the author of three full-length poetry collections with Glass Lyre Press: Gravel Ghosts (2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, 2017), Grief Flowers (2018), four chapbooks, and a children’s book, These Words I Shaped for You (Philomel Books). She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the 2018 Beullah Rose Poetry Prize, and most recently, second place in the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. She is an Editor at Pirene’s Fountain and The Comstock Review. You can find her work at