The Gold Price

by Zakia Carpenter-Hall

The asking price for everything was a nugget of gold, which no one had. – Clarissa Pinkola Estés, “Jack and The Beanstalk”

My mother can turn false golds green,
so here’s the test: my father, as trusting
as Jack, brings home some metal alloy

gleaming like a love that is so pure,
it’s suspect. And neither my mother
nor I believe it could be real, and so

we test it. First for its story, which
sounds too much like a fable. Next,
for costs: a fourth of his stimulus check.

I worry about Jack, who keeps buying gold
to bestow his love, with everyone around him
disbelieving, we say that even the 18-karat

engraving could be forged. My mother
immerses this token of love in rubbing alcohol,
dabs it dry, wears it all night. When it survives,

she scrapes the exterior, tests its pliancy,
supplies a magnet to see whether the necklace
will be drawn towards it, and watches

a wordless video of a ring held suspended
in fire for a long time, and my mother seems
unsure whether it was the color of the flame,

the consistency of the metal, the temperature
of the fire, or that the ring did not melt,
which was the true indication of its worth.