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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Wedding


From behind dark glasses, head turned with the assemblage, when your ex-fiancée, on her father’s arm, takes command of the Gothic Cathedral and floats on white satin toward glass stained blood-red;

Hung-over, beside a nameless one-night beauty, inhaling the bride’s scent, of lilacs and lilies, letting your fingers drift into the aisle as she passes, to feel the sting of sharp silk;

Stoically, when the woman you still love, who still loves you, takes the hand of another and vows obedience to your former friend, your almost-brother, between the black and lavender wings of the wedding-party windbreak;

Through a memory mist, redolent of firsts (kiss, coupling, quarrel) and shared days and nights, in which together you drew a map to the future, stopping only for babies and memories;

From under a regretful shroud, for last year’s bimbo, who meant nothing, who chewed gum while you screwed, who reeked of the essence of others;

While begging forgiveness, silently, pledging gifts you would willingly render if only, knowing the hour’s lateness, she would listen, and promises you know, and she knows, you’d unfailingly shatter;

Aroused, by the one-night beauty’s impinging hand, and the vision of your love’s shimmering white gown lifted, legs spread for you only, not him, in the waiting limousine, former friend stranded, agape, abandoned;

Straining, to hear her no, to hear the doubt in her voice, saying she can’t, saying it isn’t meant to be, that she belongs to you, that it’s you she would have;

Awakened, by the minister’s call, an objection on your tongue, a temptation to speak, not for the first time, to admit, to accuse, to vow, in the pew now, standing straight, blood flowing, erect;

From the rear, uninvited, unushered, unwelcome, out of the view of her mother, who prophesied the affair, who foretold your ignominy;

Eyes open, glasses off, hands clasped, standing as she advances, taking the first step, with him, on the road you charted;

Overlooked, in the throng, too many faces for her to see yours, so easily lost to anger, so hard to remember what spark flared between you that ignited trust, that burned away;

Head turned away, as she floats out the door, out of sight, out of your life.

Clifford Garstang left the practice of international law to write fiction. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Shenandoah, The Ledge, Baltimore Review, GSU Review and elsewhere.