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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



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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