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.