Today's poem is by Gregory Fraser


They will say you go together like a lid
and a canning jar, like chopsticks
or a lock and key. They will speak of the groom

as a decent chap, come at last
to his senses, and compliment the bride,
whose hips are those of an oil lamp,

whose slender shoulders resemble the violin's.
Because I cannot make it (forgive me
for living an eighth of the world away)

no one will be there to mention gray hills
crouched in rain, delta basins clogged
with rivers' sloughed-off skins, no one will talk

of the night in its moth-eaten jacket
or the half-devoured biscuit of the moon.
Once the cocktails start to flow, couples

will lean and let their eyes swim back
to the Summer of Love. They'll trill a few bars
of Dylan, then call to mind park benches

and trunks of trees, where their initials heal
to this day. Not one of them will recollect the anomie,
passed around like a reefer joint, or grease

making string of their hair, none will state
what is clear to all—that newlyweds are dice,
tossed into love and tumbling, all the way,

with any luck, to death. One time, at a large
reception, a father giving his daughter away
announced that he loved her to death.

My wife, the Russian, turned to me with a look
that asked, to death? Later, when the music
and dancing die, aunts and uncles, siblings

and oldest friends, will cluster at the end of the bar
to sing your most laughable gaffes:
how one of you blanched a spot on the grass,

splashing gasoline, how the other (tipsy)
tried to guess what morning glories issue
from their horns. And soon—if their love is true—

these guests will chime your consolations:
that the light of long-dead stars still reaches us,
if God's cannot, that each day closes down

from the top, like a window blind, lending us
the privacy to strip naked and take the oaths
that emblazon and raze our lives.

Doesn't one say in English shoot to death?
strangle to death? beat? bore?
So wondered
in a whisper my pepper speck, poppy seed,

cockroach dropping on the crawl-space floor.
What will I ever do with her, who sprinkles Morton
on slugs that gnaw her pansies and petunias,

who salts them to death—almost gleeful
as they writhe? I liked it better when she murdered
by night with tins of beer they can't resist—

Miller High Life, Milwaukee's Best—slugging
swill the whole way down. But times like this
demand champagne. Let's raise our glasses then,

hundreds of miles apart, and strip from our minds
the little frights—sunrise, a blunt head trauma
bandaged in fog; ruined birds at a picture

window's feet. Maybe that's the way to gloss
our love to death: adoration that flies full speed,
unaware and unafraid of what's ahead.

It's late, and I am sleepy. The goldfish stares at me
blankly, repeating a phrase I can't make out,
though it looks distinctly like the drawn, imploring

Let's . . . GO . . . my wife will mouth from across
the room, halfway though a boring party.
Let's toast the demise of boring parties,

and the birth of a lively marriage.
I wish I could be in attendance. I do, I do.
Brush of wind across the cheek, leafy reply.

Copyright © 2011 Gregory Fraser All rights reserved
from New South
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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