- March 1969
Seated in the pews the best man whose arms draped the groom’s shouldersPassed a flask of hundred-proof grain from inside his tuxedo pocket
A mother fondled her fake pearls, walked the aisles trying to find a soloistAsked the guests: Who can sing His Eyes Are On the Sparrow? Amazing Grace?
On Hanover Street, in the YWCA’s bathroom, a woman in laceHuddled on the floor of an end stall; she heard the lobby phone
Ring incessantly; the receptionist on the intercom trumpeted her nameShe balled up wads of Angel Soft around her hand, blew her nose;
Reapplied Maybelline every hour or so just in case the pressure ofGowns, maids, her mother’s second mortgage, florists, soloists
My sister’s twitchForced her hand
At 3:15, three hours late [End Page 311]
She lifted her head off the toilet seat, called a yellow taxi to pick her upWhile she waited one of the homeless women touched her shoulder:
It’s better for the baby, honey
Once she arrived at church, she tripped walking down the altarBusted her knee wide open, bled through her stockings, her garter
Her groom, many swigs in, balanced by his best men, hunched overHer mother, at the ready, ran and lifted her daughter so odd voyeurs
Could witness a bride settleHer lean dowry [End Page 312]
Airea D. Matthews is a Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow as well as a Zell Postgraduate Poetry Fellow at the University of Michigan. She was a 2013 Pushcart Prize nominee and was awarded the 2011 Michael R. Gutterman Prize in Poetry. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, an MPA from the Ford School of Public Policy, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan. Currently at work on her first full-length poetry collection, she lives in Detroit.