Alluvial Deposits (after Carboplatin chemotherapy)

Alluvial Deposits (after Carboplatin chemotherapy)

July 26, 2023

This poem is part of a series in which I explore traditional jewelry materials and the ways in which they relate to the body. When I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, I tried to keep my material curiosity alive by tracing the medicines back to their roots, in this case the element platinum. I thought a lot about how systems within the body mimic systems without, veins and arteries echo streams and rivers, sediments accumulate in silt and bone. Thank you to Metalsmith Magazine for inviting me to publish this poem. 


Alluvial Deposits (after Carboplatin chemotherapy)


My friend with size 12 fingers insists on platinum 

so I set to work carving wedding ring from wax block

refining the crude hacks of my handsaw 

with a file and a multitude of sandpapers.


It weighs barely a gram, this brittle model

but transformed into metal it will become 

a heavy ballast, it will right the ship,

at least that is what my friend imagines.


I carve slashes into satiny 600-grit surface

as if it has been mauled by a bear my friend directs me

he is watching a Werner Herzog movie 

about caves and signs, man and animal.


He wants the animal present in the ring I craft.  

I could hone a bear claw, make a tiny tool

become a Wild Thing scratching at ring’s surface

instead, I use precision tungsten burrs to engrave an ursine alphabet.  




What constitutes treasure is subject to interpretation. 

Aguirre, spun round on a river raft, searching 

for El Dorado. The contents of the treasure chest

are usually gold and gems, perhaps feathers

ink, bone, water.


I’ve never seen a chest full of silver’s dull, heavy relative


But I’ve tasted it. Platinum flowed through my veins.

I have known it to be a precise poison

that lingers still

as heavy metals do.


When my living is done 

when blood and bile leach back into earth

when my seas evaporate

and my fascia lets go

the well-built pyre of my bones

will reach substantial temperatures

capable of drawing platinum out

and you will find that all along  

deep in marrow   hair follicle 

it’s been mating with the gold.