Monday, January 10, 2005

Poem of the Week 1/10/2005: Old Bachelor Brother

Old Bachelor Brother

Here from his prominent but thankfully
uncentral position at the head of the church --
a flanking member of the groom's large party --
he stands and waits to watch the women march

up the wide aisle, just the way they did
at last night's long and leaden-joked rehearsal.
Only this time, it's all changed. There's now a crowd,
of course, and walls of lit stained glass, and Purcell

ringing from the rented organist,
and yet the major difference, the one
that hits his throat as a sort of smoky thirst,
is how, so far away, the church's main

doors are flung back, uncovering a square
of sun that streams into the narthex, so that
the women who materialize there
do so in blinding silhouette,

and these are not the women he has helloed
and kissed, and who have bored, ignored, or teased him,
but girls -- whose high, garlanded hair goes haloed
by the noon-light . . . The years have dropped from them.

One by one they're bodied forth, edged with flame,
as new as flame, destined to part the sea
of faces on each side, and approaching him
in all their passionate anonymity.

Brad Leithauser [1990]

Well, I chose this poem because I was at my cousin's wedding this weekend, so I have been thinking about weddings and marriage a lot. Going to the wedding helped me renew my faith in the institution of marriage just a little bit. I guess I have seen so many endings of marriages that I forget the promise a beginning holds, and that two people actually love each other enough to want to live their whole lives together and get old and die together. To me, that desire redeems marriage somewhat; the mere fact that they will promise to do that just makes me feel better or something. About marriage. Because so many of them break up or are sour or dead, and gay people can't even get married at all. At any rate, I think the poem's wedding helps the bachelor brother find hope again, too. Or freshness or renewal. So - just some things to think about. Good night!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When the pinch comes, you remember the old shoe.