So, what do you do for a wedding reading at the wedding of people who aren't "gushy"? The wedding of a couple of snake-wrangling science types who would probably snort if you started to say, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. . ." or anything like that. Yes, I'm talking about my snakey sister, whose wedding invitations (drawn by Jim and I) had a lizard on them, and whose wedding wine glasses bear a design of intertwined rattlesnakes (drawn by Jim) -- I'd post those images, but I'm still on the alien computer! "Wedding poetry" is gushy, old-fashioned stuff, mostly. Not their thing. So I've been looking for something a little more appropriate, and I'm not sure exactly what I'll read yet, but today at the bookstore I got lost in poetry.
Been a while since that happened. I'm pro-poetry, but I just haven't had the time for it in a while, I guess. Or made the time. When you feel like you don't have time and you crack open a poetry book, you can't really read it, you sort of look at it, but that's different. When you do really read it, settle into it, it can kind of tackle you with the fresh realization of how magnificent, how limber, how glittering, is language. I browsed through a lot of books and culled bits from here and there, but there was one anthology called Dancing With Joy, that has so many brilliant joyful poems in it. I just have to pass on some lines found in this and other books:
"Jump into experience while you are alive!
If you don't break your ropes while you're alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?"
". . .We must risk delight.
We can do without pleasure, but not delight.
We must have the stubborness to accept our gladness
in the ruthless furnace of this world. . ."
- Jack Gilbert, from A Brief for the Defense
"Suddenly I realized that if I stepped out of my body I would break into blossom."
- James Wright, from A Blessing
"The body does not wear out with
use, nor does love, so let us
use each other in the best of ways
as the hours jump off the cliff."
- Marge Piercy, from The Real Hearth
by Mary Oliver
I see or I hear
that more or less
that leaves me
like a needle
in the haystack
It is what I was born for--
to look, to listen,
to lose myself
inside this soft world--
to instruct myself
over and over
in joy. . .
by Li-Young Lee
O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.
These are days we live
as if death was nowhere,
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
And man, if I haven't lost you yet, check out this depiction of a blissful girl:
by Tony Hoagland
Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair,looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy.
we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
Cripes. Dude can write!
Any ideas for a great non-gushy wedding reading will be appreciated!
I treated myself to a dress from Anthropologie to wear to the wedding; it's blue-violet and so cute, and today I found some great, unexpected shoes to go with. I think I've found a stylist to pinken up my hair on monday, and tomorrow, Jim and I are going to Sequoia National Park to see the world's largest tree, amid many of the world's almost-largest trees! I can't WAIT! Hope you have a great weekend too!