GUESTS OF THE WEDDING
Does it ever end? Sure, hard to say where tho, & naturally
the facts of the next thirty minutes or years
are not like tent pegs pounded into the earth,
not knowable because sharp & stationary.
But that morning walking beneath the tent--
a large tent--I saw
there was candlewax pooled on the starched white tablecloths,
proof of the pleasure
people had taken
circling & dancing & burning in the light
those candles threw the night before.
Thank you, gracious candles.
It was a wedding.
All of us, Michaela said, are really
animals, & she accepted that, glad.
And that morning
in the house belonging to Candice & Ed
next to the tent we met
the boy named Jake, a four-year-old, & his mother
with her tattoo designed by an unknown hand
to encircle like a wide bracelet her tanned upper arm,
a bracelet marked by totemic shapes & faces--
beaks, fins, talons, feathered tails, lidded eyes--
Kwakiutl if there were no Kwakiutl around to ask
the mother of Jake why & from where & who
did she think she was? Who was she
who had also had drawn across her back
shoulder blade to blade an unfurled pair of wings?
She was a lovely citizen & an employee of Ed
if the obvious can be counted on
sometimes in the sharp late-September sunlight.
Many things might happen to her
but those tattoos remain the same
or changed only slightly of course
by the fading of color,
slackened skin. Many things
would happen, her future--
months without jobs, & later,
success, against a backdrop of stables, success,
and then the night she would nearly be raped,
the rainy night she would fish
the beach with Brazilians, & on another shore
the morning she'd lick a pebble & laugh
to tell her as yet unborn daughter
I am Demosthenes & must practice my oration--
the future I invented for her,
and within which
I moved her from place to place.
To own another person, completely, in the imagination.
How else do you teach yourself
what you wish to become?
And isn't it
one after another after another after another
the many things men & women wish to be?
Bitter sadness splits each person
so high moments
might heal us,
& vice versa--
everything fine & good
taking place as it does before or after
the worst happens--
but all the while
in the background nightly
a girl sings. She sings
the song that says
she'll sleep, she'll sleep, she'll
rest at last--
is how we hear it
in any case,
at least we think we do.
It is true too
that for the longest time
whenever we wave hello
like travellers aboard schooners,
until one day
the ship makes landfall,
and off we step--
each of us chooses
finally, & having chosen
becomes the thing
whose name we picked:
fan of Truffaut
or pirate hero.
Before that tho
of shooting six blue arrows
into the sea, & crying--
for how the sea
forgives those arrows