Various and Sundry Poetry

on other people's weddings

You never imagined being the bride
swirling in taffeta, chiffon, or crêpe silk,
whatever strange fabric blankets the gowns of those magazines
littering your doctor's office, next to a Time Magazine from 1995.
Something of the bride always lacked dimension for you,
or otherwise too much dimension, occupied too much time,
twittery talks among girlfriends, things whispered in one's own dreams
about belonging with someone, finally,
a penultimate union that required dressing up,
getting fitted with the dressmaker's exacting inches,
weekend visits to the jeweler's, eyefuls of platinum potential.

You never imagined the ring, the swoon around a brunch table,
the bend of a hand angling for compliments. You went to those movies
and sighed somewhere between the first kiss and the proposal,
but the film always ended too early, just after the big day,
before the uncle of the bride got drunk,
cornering an unsuspecting guest with bad jokes about infidelity,
before the best man contemplated his own faltering marriage,
before the bridesmaids went home hungry and alone.

You never imagined the first dance, all eyes on the happy couple,
something electric and yearning passing between them,
some unknown thing, a secret, some unshareable memory
locking them into a tandem swish of the hips,
their mouths still beading with the word "Yes" and
"I will" and "I do."

You never imagined the primping and prepping,
the French manicure, the oxblood liptick, the small fake daisies
announcing themselves in an up-do. You didn't care for
conversations about strapless bras, invisible thongs
or the endless tug of war of shoes shoes shoes.

You never imagined the bride and yet last night
you danced right next to her, breathed in
the gardenia of her perfume, saw the line of sweat
forming just under the armpit, the crucial seam
she hadn't anticipated. You saw the tiny smudge of kohl
at another crease, a stain on her eyelid she couldn't erase,
a black smudge of near-permanence.
And then came the other slim, almost missable fissures,
the groom's mother grimacing slightly,
the priest clutching his bible like a security blanket,
the wind blowing indiscriminately at hair,
at napkins, at rose petals.

And something of this gave you hope,
not that you needed to know whether
you would be here one day, tossing bouquets,
making poetic announcements to a large and weepy crowd,
but that where you were was just fine
which is to say close enough to the cake
to manage a slice or two
with room left over for later, just in case.