Wedding Dress Ghazal
A girl blooms from a shantung hill that whitens
As sunlight touches it. Come do my buttons?
Her little sister’s thirteen-year-old fingers
Are careful: tiny loops, forty buttons.
Each button slips in through the looping eye
Whose pupil it becomes. She buttons, buttons.
The girl in the dress exhales. It fit last Friday.
Her sister tucks her chin, studies the buttons.
Another bridesmaid holds the illusion veil.
The little sister buttons, buttons, buttons.
Past the hard part now. Now you can breathe.
Breathing’s a good idea. Seven buttons.
The buttons’ blank white eyes regard her coolly.
Today is not her day. These aren’t her buttons.
Outside, something startles the mourning doves
That feed in the church courtyard. Three more buttons.
The girls’ eyes, like windows, flash with wings.
All the future’s fastened with these buttons.
At last she’s buttoned into it: the bride.
The doves, resettling, wink bright eyes like buttons.
by Sally Thomas
Editor’s Note: This ghazal seems simple until the seventh stanza when the quiet, emotional framework of the little sister is revealed.