Epithalamion

 

It was a hotel wedding

in the days of early spring

 

with a sheer white veil and roses

a 24-karat ring

 

and everyone wanted to climb the stairs

to dance with the bride

 

in her plush brassiere

her bitter garter and snowy dress

 

bearing them up like a sacrifice

with their ballast of fallen tears.

 

Someone told me her toenails

were painted indigo blue

 

the color of night or a raincloud

inside her seed-pearl shoes

 

while the band played on

full of nostalgia

 

above Division Street's misty cars

for weddings come and weddings gone.

 

They played the mambo

and Pennies from Heaven,

 

their black tuxedos embroidered with stars

like Sirius, Rigel or Ganymede

 

Jupiter's largest moon

with its hidden ocean sixty miles deep

 

under the silicate's shadowy plains,

under its curved icy grooves.

 

And here was no ancient mariner,

earthbound, stopping a guest at the door

 

with a crooked tale of wandering

over some cruelty that happened before

 

for this was a ritual entirely made new

with vows both silent and spoken

 

though everyone present already knew

each day they could be broken

 

for the stairs going up are the stairs going down

from the attic to the dirt cellar floor

 

and far beyond, the river would flow on

over its distant shore.

Joseph Millar.jpg

Joseph Millar

Pronouns: He/His

1 Poem

Epithalamion

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Joseph Millar’s (he/his) fifth collection, Dark Harvest, New & Selected Poems, is forthcoming from Carnegie-Mellon in October 2021. His poems have won fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA. He teaches in North Carolina State’s MFA program and Pacific University’s MFA.

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