The Wedding Reception


I sit and watch her.
My pastel punch and thick-iced cake
(On delicate plate)
Balance awkwardly on my knee.
I think of me 12 years before.
Her smile beams
First on this reception guest,
Then that.
Sometimes blushing,
Sometimes laughing,
Always turning
Eyes of admiration to the handsome groom.
Should I tell her?
Tell her of face-down peanut-buttered bread
On new-mopped floor?
Of a two-year-old stretched out
and kicking angrily
In the grocery store
(And everybody watching)?
Can I tell her?
Tell her of the almost-can’t-cope days?
The lonely evenings
Waiting for bishopric meeting
To end?
Will I tell her?
Tell her of the terrifying cry
Of croup
Deep in night?
Or the quickened step
Of the home teacher
Summoned to help administer
To a feverish brow?
No.
But neither can I share with her
The thrill of a newborn’s nose
Bobbing in my neck;
The pride of seeing a six-year-old
Begin to read.
I cannot tell her
Of a husband’s gentle touch
On my hand
As we pass briefly
In the chapel foyer.
So,
Standing, I brush away the crumbs
From my not-so-new dress,
Smile,
And wave a little
To the bride
Across the room.

[photo] Photograph by Robert Casey