So many people have keepsakes to symbolize their love for one another. Couples have pictures and mementos to remind them of their special times. In “The Tally Stick”, Jarold Ramsey introduces us to a couple who use a tally stick rather than pictures to represent what is important in their lives. Ramsey takes us from the beginning of the relationship, when the stick is bare, to the end when it is carved end to end. We learn of the outside events that build their love, as well as internal measure, upon which their love is built. According to Ramsey the stick is a part of the couple’s relationship. The tally stick shows that love can be a long-lasting bond defined by failure and success that strengthen their relationship.
Before there is a single notch in the stick the narrator shows its significance. Ramsey indicates the stick is a gift, which represents the couple’s lifetime together. Saying, “From our first of days…/ I have carved our lives in secret on this stick” (1; 2). Their unique and extraordinary bond is directly represented by the type and length of the “Mountain mahogany” stick, Measured by “the length of your arms/ outstretched…”(3; 4). Also, because their relationship is so concrete and red with passion, Ramsey describes “the wood” as “clear red, so hard and rare” (4). In the opening stanza Ramsey shows that the tally stick embodies every part of this relationship, and its characteristics signify more than just important events.
The first and most elaborate notch on the stick is the couple’s wedding. It is very detailed and enables them to relive their wedding. Like their lives “the grains /converge and join” (6; 7). The details of the notch are so specific the couple can tell “who danced, who made up the songs, who meant” them “joy” (9). The complex structures not only depict their wedding but the intricacy of their relationship, its specialness and how much they mean to each other. Inscriptions along the grain show the love they have for...
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