On the Occasion of Your Marriage
Your letter arrived last winter, crisp and cold at the edge, the weight
of your message swelling the envelope.
Your fiancé wakes most nights screaming; the pain pulling
his body away from you in the dark.
It is his torment, chronic and bright, that rushes your hand across
the blank page, smooth script sprawling
as you write of a quick ceremony, on your lunch break, so he will be yours
to care for. You know loneliness; an only child staring
down a mother’s broken mind and a father’s broken back, but I see
you in the courthouse, your hands clasp his promise: I will stay with you.
When we were children we ran, hand in hand, across my grandfather’s
pasture clutching Indian Paintbrushes and searching out arrowheads.
Blue eyes and quiet smiles for the boys: the neighbor kicking
a soccer ball around your tan ankles and later the grocer’s son leading
you out to the risers behind the baseball fields. Later on, lying in the tall grass,
you made me guess exactly where his hands traveled.
At twenty, you met a man and made a blue-eyed girl of your own.
He moved you to a small house, far away from town, and while she slept,
young mutt curled in the crook of her knees, he threw you against
the wall, cracking the pine paneling. He left, and you moved on
to a trailer in town, a small brook in the back where your daughter
learned to swim, catch frogs, hunt her own artifacts.
You enroll her in dance classes, drama camp, and offer up weekend
trips to Storyland, where princesses live in castles, tea cups
spin and flowers sing. Where you, two girls, still hold
hands, feeding wild swans at the edge of the moat.