“In the Ring of Twenty Signs” by Barbara Helfgott Hyett

The third ring is the future scraping
the present: what is next enters, closes
itself to the past. The fifth ring is
observation. The sixth, satisfaction
of what is known. The fourth ring
is worry, but that is naive, short-lived,
a waste of time, which is the tenth ring,
the middle. The eleventh ring is pleasure;
feeding, but not gluttony, sex but not
depletion. The twelfth ring: love.
The thirteenth, love undone, unleashed
attachment. Rings six through nine are
marriage. The fourteenth ring is silence.
The fifteenth, desire. The sixteenth
ring, mercy. The sixteenth ring is true.
At seventeen you stand alone on the stairway.
The seventeenth ring is achievement.
The eighteenth gives it all away. Not
generously. Not regretfully. Just given.
The nineteenth ring is loneliness suffered
despite oneself. The twentieth ring is the moon
and all its shadows. Rings one and two—
these are the human, delicate and susceptible.
The first two rings are the eyes.

From  Rift
University of Arkansas Press

Barbara Helfgott Hyett

Poet, professor and public lecturer, Barbara Helfgott Hyett has published five collections of poetry: including Rift, which  have been widely reviewed. Other poems and essays have appeared in many journals as and in over forty  anthologies. Recipient of two Massachusetts Artists Fellowships in Poetry, the Gertrude Warren Prize, the Herman Melville Commemorative Poetry Prize, Fellowships at Yaddo, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Among other prizes and grants, she was awarded a Father John Fellowship for Excellence in the Arts, by the Boston Foundation last year.

Helfgott Hyett has taught English at the Teachers and Scholars program at Harvard, at MIT, Trinity College, and Boston University where she won the Sproat Award For Excellence in Teaching English. As a poet-in the- schools she has served over 200 communities, and was artist-in-residence at the MFA and the Fuller Art Museums. She is currently the director of PoemWorks, The Workshop for Publishing Poets, in Chestnut Hill, MA,  named “One of the Best Workshops in Boston” by the Boston Globe.


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