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.

Photograph by Robert Casey