I Went to a Wedding Once by J. Rod Pannek

I Went to a Wedding Once
—for David and Lesli

The bride
stood silent, as if
she had a great question
the oracle had yet
to resolve.

I am sure she trembled
at the coda and rustled
her bouquet, wondering
where her hem was falling
against her leg or what
the man next to her thought
about the way she answered.

The children in the front
row coughed and scribbled
throughout the day.
The other guest were wary
of convention but nodded
in agreement with every
word from Ecclesiastes.

The groom wanted
to fix the carpet that had
pulled apart along
the step to the altar
and smooth the ruffle
on the minister’s sleeve.
He had it in him to make
things better and wondered
yet what the outcome might be.

Outside, under the planed
Texas sky, where couples left
in cars and remembered
moments spent leaning against
an oak or relished on a sofa,
single men disdained
the law and girls held
ceremony in contempt.

Now, at home, I finish my beer
and scrape at my plate,
while Byzantine December
and her inherent jostling,
try once again to pull back
the curtain on certain miracles.

We are all Psalmist, I concede,
when confronted with
accidental beauty,
when the clouds cleave
and we realize that the person
we are standing next to
fills every vessel with
their soul.

by J. Rod Pannek

Editor’s Note: The careful and detailed imagery of this poem slowly pulls the reader through the speaker’s thoughts of ceremony, and what meaning our rituals perform, while trying to describe the indescribable.