Brides — Poetry 201 Rehab Decisions

This prose-poem, originally written in the year 2000, has nothing whatsoever to do with this week’s prompt https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/31982590/793887517 , except in so far as I recently decided to drag it out of my archives and touch it up a bit and this post thus has to do with the decisions we are constantly making and re-making as artists as to what to keep and what to discard. I hadn’t even included this piece in the ongoing ‘official’ inventory of my work. Perhaps because it harks back to the prose poetry of my earlier years, at a time when I was struggling to move on to free verse. Perhaps for more personal reasons.

Brides

 

If you get your pictures developed at the shop next to the bar that is my home these days, you get one enlargement free. The word FREE is written in bold blue letters on a large white star. So it must be true.

I imagine that the free enlargement you get is not as grand as the ones you see in the vitrine. Brides and babes, mostly. Blown up to a size that is normally reserved for those puffed up in expectation of political office.

Looking over them again, they are really nearly all brides. Some flashing sets of toothpaste-advert teeth straight into the camera as a gartered ankle steps into a car. Others looking coyly down into a white nosegay nestled in their bust, as if fixed on some melancholy import of the moment. Others looking up into the eyes of someone off-camera who is taller or greater than they.

They all faintly resemble someone you know. Everyone looks vaguely the same in wedding dress.

The photographer attends weddings even more often than washed-out movie stars. Each time it is the same image he is trying to catch; something that won’t develop out of chemicals in a dark room. Something beyond the smiles and the sparkling whites of eyes and the flush of descending busts. Something that you can see and feel, but not say. The image of an expectation that can never match its original representation.

And, if you look closely, think about it, there is nothing in any of it. Like cut crystal, icing, lace, meringue, a silver spoon. Something meant for show, not use. Something waiting only to be broken.

*

And tucked away in a corner, almost lost among these overblown icons of improbable wedded bliss, a cheap wood-cut of a long-haired Jesus Christ.

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