Poem of the Week | January 22, 2018

This week, we are proud to present a new poem by Jen Karetnick. Karetnick is the author of three full-length poetry collections, most recently the eco-feminist climate change book about the drowning of Miami, The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize. The winner of the 2017 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Contest, the 2016 Romeo Lemay Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, she has had work nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net awards. Her poems appear in Crab Orchard Review, One, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prime Number Magazine, Spillway, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Daily and Waxwing Literary Journal. She is co-founder/co-director of SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami).

Borromean Rings

In the beginning, there were three:
The invariant, the crossing link,
and the trivial component.
The oldest and youngest treated
each other like a disentanglement
puzzle. They tugged in infinite ways.
The crossing link never really wanted
to be solved. She knew a snip to the heart
would be permanent and, with one ring
removed, the remaining two would float
as they do, side by side, catches released,
fundamental products of the unknot.

Author’s Note:

This was a very difficult poem to write, which I did after the sudden death of my brother at the age of 51. He was the eldest of three. We did not have a good relationship—it was thorny, and we didn’t know how to talk to each other—something I will always regret. I was researching knot theories for another poem when I came across Borromean rings, which are three intertwined circles. The only way to free them is to cut one, which destroys it, and leaves the other two separated but whole. It’s the harshest of solutions. But the idea of the rings’ knot, which is called a Brunnian link, resonated with my subconscious.