A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND
Diamonds cost so much because they contain galaxies:
black holes and cloudy nebulae drifting in what,
under the jeweler's loupe, seems infinite space.
The most expensive, though, are clear:
inclusions boiled away to leave a crystal void.
Light-beams flit into diamonds like hummingbirds,
zip back and forth, then flash away as "fire."
Well-cut stones flash the most fire.
Jewelers exalt The Three C's: cut, color, clarity:
Lay customers want size. Yet a ten-carat,
two-gram "boulder" is dwarfed by a pigeon's egg.
The 3,106-carat Cullinan was the largest
diamond ever found. The 530-carat Star of Africa
was cut from it. Diamonds can be celebrities:
the Regent, Orloff, Conde, Koh-i-noor, the yellow
Tiffany, and the blue Hope. Like the body
of the beloved, each part of a cut diamond has its name:
facet, table, girdle, crown, culet, pavilion.
Diamonds are pure carbon, pressure-cooked
in the earth's mantle, then volcanoed up.
Superman squeezed a lump of coal to make
a diamond, and used it to replace an idol's eye.
Hannibal Jones—escaped and starving—
ate a dead crow, and found in its guts
a diamond which paid his passage to freedom.
After the war, desperate to engage my mom,
Dad traded his car for a diamond that turned out
to be glass, though she never told him.
Only diamond can cut diamond. Still,
diamonds aren't forever. They can crack,
chip, and at 1300 degrees Fahrenheit, burn.
All wear away little by little, losing luster
and size like deities whose cults decline.
Uncut diamonds are pale and dull. No telling
who first polished and chipped facets into them.
No telling who first collected a handful
and was called rich, or tried to crush a diamond
with a rock, and broke the rock, and gave
the diamond to a woman, mumbling,
with his unpracticed tongue, My love is like this stone.
from Tulip Farms and Leper Colonies, published by Boa Editions, Ltd., © 2001 by Charles Harper Webb.