I once was lost

 When I’d been married three months I lost my wedding ring,
which is not a clever thing to do.
I also lost it on my birthday, which was not a great present.
We were staying at a camping barn
with impressive composting toilets up a slope.
I had washed my hands in a cold water basin
and dried them under my armpits.
Probably it came off then.
Several kind people helped to look for it,
but it seemed hopeless,
with all the grass and leaves and mud.
‘Don’t worry’, she said, ‘we’re still married…’
I knew she was right in the legal sense, but still…
Over the next few days she stopped wearing hers.
I grieved for the empty space on my finger.
I wriggled at the memory of my carelessness.
I didn’t realise that cold water would shrink your skin.
No matter how much I tried to re-organise the event in my mind,
the result always came out the same – the ring stayed lost.
When I was nine I lost my father.
They told me he died having a check-up in hospital,
and it’s true that he never came home.
But I worked out for myself that they might be wrong,
and secretly kept looking for him.
The searching was hard, and I never found him.
A few days after my birthday, I took courage,
and went back to the scene of the loss.
Alone, in the face of hopelessness,
I concentrated on the tingling of my empty finger,
and my affection for a nondescript band of inert metal.
Starting from the cold water basin,
I methodically scraped back layers of dead leaves,
cut back fronds of bracken, and threw away rotting sticks.
After about fifteen minutes of looking,
in an area I had not planned to search,
just behind a paling fence, and only a few feet
from the large pile of composting shit under the toilets,
I saw a ring lying casually on some dead leaves.
The hardness of the metal convinced me it was real,
and the way it fitted my finger convinced me it was mine.
I sat on the toilet steps while waves of emotion washed through me.
I had found my wedding ring.
I had found that my father had never left me,
but was always with me in the determination of my actions.
I had found that a world which appears to be
a collection of disparate wrongnesses,
can coalesce into a single world of infinite potential.

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