|Jul/Aug 2011 Poetry Special Feature|
Photo by Leeca Desforges
The first time I married I was eight.
I thought my grandmother
would forbid it if she'd known.
A rooster was my best man, but he flew
into a locust tree and would not come when called.
We said our vows in the heat of the apple orchard,
small fruit, green and sour, and spun every wedded word
we pulled from the airwaves, a chaos of love.
She borrowed her father's white
dress shirt for a gown. Her brother Ronnie
spoke in tongues, wet himself
and cried when we were done.
After the ceremony we lay in the shade
and talked about the fuzz of foxtails and babies that would come.
I yelled their names into the cistern's maw,
noon light reduced to a wobbling circle in the dark.
A strange mania seized the meadow birds,
redwings raving, mockingbirds chasing the rag-tailed crows.
I found a quarter shining in the dust
and pocketed it as my own. Already there were secrets,
the summer rumbled down the mountain
like a distant lumber truck.
She put a tiger lily behind one ear
and sang all the hymns I'd never learned.
I pinged along behind her like a wasp.
I never kissed more than a finger.
The next day she locked herself in her room.
I stripped the leaves from a forsythia bush,
and listened to her father thunder. My grandmother
sipped tea behind the screen door,
let the old tom out to mouse.
A corn snake twined up with a garden hose.
She sank her ice with a yellow nail, smiled, and said,
I guess this means we aren't quite rid of you.