I dreamt the white dress standing in front of a mirror
With my perfect man who would soon read the letter
I wrote him when I was 16 in Young Women’s class
At church in which I promised purity and to be
Temple worthy. We would learn our real names.
The mirror behind us would reflect the mirror before us,
Our faces would recede into infinity. We would learn
The secrets of godhood together. Populate worlds.

Pregnant, I wore a dusty rose dress on a mountain
His mother almost died climbing. He slid the ring
Jagged with peaks on my finger, said, “With this ring
I hold you forever.” Terrified at such solidity, I replied,
With Zuni water ring, “Please wear this token
Of my love, constant and changing as the ocean.”
One morning, a year later, I woke and the tide
Had gone too far out. I left him on land.

We wore only our hair and braided two long strands
Of it together, cut with a knife under the tree
Where our son was born the year before.
We put the braid in a leather bag with our children’s
Fingernails, my milk, a raven claw. Love medicine.
Inexorable drift. When he moved out, he took the knife
From the wall. I packed the family medicine in boxes,
Puzzled that something had eaten our feathers.

No dress. No mirrors.
No mountain. No rings.
No braid. No tree.
Just chickens. Garden.
Bees. Rolling plains.
Tiny house. Pond singing spring.
Sleepless reach. Wordless gaze.


2 Responses to “Marriages”

  1. Fey says:

    Oh. Wow. I wish I had something powerful and lucid as a response. This is without question my favorite of all your works.

  2. Bill says:

    It was at a birthday party that I thought I knew the meaning of words someone had quietly whispered to me, only to discover, years later … another birthday party, how wrong I had been about my understanding that meaning. Because of this I have a secret suspicion that fact of communication, the truth of it, is an entirely fictional construct.

    All this is an introduction to the supposed “fact” that we have some shared history and, so, I think I know the bittersweet story … but, then again, who really can say.

    Peace and Greetings to you.

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