The Non-Wedding: A Poem

The story behind the poem: The mother of one of the grooms is a friend of mine, and all through the months leading up to the big day, she would start to say “wedding,” then catch herself and substitute “commitment ceremony”. I finally said, “Honey, it’s a wedding — just call it one!” And she looked terribly worried and answered, “Oh, but we can’t call it a wedding — that wouldn’t be legal!” Sad. It was beautiful anyway, one of the nicest weddings I’ve ever attended.

The grooms wore white, as
slim as candles in the rainbow light
from the church’s stained-glass window —

No, they wore dark suits,
this being real life and not a fairy tale,
depending on how you take that.

And they were slender but the groomsmen weren’t,
and nobody gave the bride away, but
ferns and red roses decorated the altar,
arranged by friends in the kitchen the night before.

They had a soloist and the requisite weeping mothers,
and their voices cracked on the vows they wrote themselves,
and the preacher gave a sermon, and then he said,
“By the power vested in me — ”
But it wasn’t a wedding, for that would be illegal,
only a promise of faithfulness and love,
in life, in death,
in sickness and in health —
in my book that’s a wedding.