The Duke of Gems

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“Go outside, clench both hands into fists and holdig your arms straight at your sides, come back inside and show me your left palm.”

I followed instructions to the letter, walking back into the studio on an early summer afternoon, after a long boat ride, a visit to a messy school building, and a conversation with a master puppeteer and stained glass artist. I had spent my morning eating gingerbread and staring at deep purple iris, gazing at the dark blue water and watching the land and the ocean pass by.

In the studio that day were piles of gemstones, both precious and semi-so, laid out on our cases, packed inside plastic bags, stored inside black cases.

The Duke of Gems grasped my left hand and rubbed it with the fingers and thumbs of both hands, and said,

“Who is this guy?”

I said, “excuse me?”

“Who is this guy? Do not commit to this! You don’t know him, he is not here yet. Do not commit to this, for marriage for the sake of it, for the paper, is not right.”

I stood, bewildered. My coworker said, “Do mine!”, and he proceeded to ask if someone was bleeding, sick. She, looking shocked, said, “I am a midwife, what do you mean?” He also mentioned that there was no threat to her father but that he must behave during recovery.

Next he turned to another coworker and asked, “why are you holding on to this? This weight is on your shoulders; it is as if you are diving into the deep water, and are doing it by choice!” She looked sad, explaining her situation, and he told her to stop.

Lastly, he said to our fourth at the studio, “sometimes when you help people this much, you are actually hurting them.”

Then he said, nonchalantly, that sometimes people tell him he is in the wrong profession.

We four, bewildered, continued to siphon through stones, picking out treasures as he continued. He and I spoke in Spanish, he told us about his family, and about the trade in stones. He showed us a $10,000 mystery stone and told us about buying and selling, winning and losing money.

Just before he left, he said to me, “Patience, what are you doing here?” I said that I had been offered a teaching position out on an island and he shook his head. “No,” he said. Then, “you can try it. You can go ahead and try it but it is not what you will do. You need open space, this place is too small, you need the open spaces. I would love to see what you will be doing next time I come, but you will not be here.”

The feeling of mystery continued until he left us almost four hours after he had arrived unannounced, and unknown to any of us. I had an idea to whom he was referring in my case, my coworker continued to counsel her patients and told her father he must behave, and our other two friends made moves to reconcile the emotions that he had voiced for them, too.

The next day he called us said he had been up all night praying for one of us.

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One thought on “The Duke of Gems

  1. This is magnificent. I don’t know why I haven’t spent more time here before. Rest assured, I will be now.

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