When in “critical situations,”
like the decay of decency in a nation,
or having been exiled to a land where
people demanded anarchy and got it,
there is a tendency to take with us
a portion of the dignity and respect
we had before our nice world ended.
But to take it in an ostentatious form
(one thinks of sedan chairs borne aloft,
of an afternoon spent writing letters at
an ivory-inlaid desk with a gold-nibbed pen),
to bring such ostentation to destitute eyes
would beget Envy, and after Envy
her brats, Thievery and Spilled Blood.
Hence the ruby, or sapphire, or diamond
tucked into a self-inflicted wound some
weeks before departure, to allow healing.
To be sure, scars will remain, but everyone
will have scars. With a precious few,
it is a rare pearl in the painful incision,
vanished when looked for—absorbed.