Friday, December 19, 2008
white phosphorus wedding -&- open up
we are ready to go around 3, and bobby
pushes to the second. not about koj’s bragging
rights or my sinus infection. about bobby’s son
jason. about 30 years and 3 days of shaking calls.
about the wedding. i sit between koj and
kenji and try not to say anything that
will disappoint mother keiko.
she’s dressed finer than me, mentions trying
four states before settling on her dress. i
can’t remember where i got mine, but i know
it cost less than $15 and it is out of season.
on the sidewalk bobby tells me i am responsible
for straightening his bowtie, and i wonder
how much he wanted a daughter.
kenji holds my hand, smiling at me and laughing
when i realize the skin between my nose and
lip is chapped, peeling from blowing my nose
so much. the church is the kind investing more
money in stained glass than i will in my education.
i tell kenji our wedding will be outside with a picnic
sandwich ice cream reception and he can’t wear
a tuxedo. he holds my hand tighter.
keiko and bobby get their flowers. us kids sit.
second row feels too close. kenji sees nothing
but the mechanics of the organ.
i see nothing but the way jason looks
at kristina. the reverend blesses the marriage,
keiko and bobby pose for the “father/son/
stepmother” photo, and we get back in the car.
the country club of virginia looks like a plantation
paid for by $100 thousand a year membership fees.
the bar is open, though, the wine is sweet, and kenji
and koj want irish coffees. the whiskey soothes.
kenji kisses my cheek, twirls me through crowds.
the men smoking want to talk politics and my tattoo.
one of them steals my champagne during
the toast and cuts in when kenji and i feel up
to dancing. koj tells me keiko knows that i smoke.
i worry that i will be found unfit. kenji’s other girls
didn’t smoke. didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t speak.
koj tells me not to worry. “she likes you. and bobby
really loves you.” i smile. i know koj likes me too.
the servers bring out grits, and i eat two plates.
the couple cuts the cake and talks about meeting,
he dances with his mom, her with her dad,
and we wish them well, lighting their exit with
sparklers instead of throwing rice. the guy i saw
getting high on the porch burns holes into his hand.
i pull kenji away from him, and keiko yells for us to
get in the car again.
will you? come with… father not long… mother… week while… wedding… wine, cheese, finery… equalizing… i promise you are smarter than anyone there… same name church… same name brother… no blood, but… beer gin wine whiskey champagne laden sweet words… trolley tracks… fake fire feels different… you’re not gonna tell me what it means? no… for the last time… you don’t have to tell… voting is private… like your name… your face… their dance… would you?
would… you? attend… obligation… limited to smiles… limited to sitting still… limited to don’t cough during the ceremony. it sounds so terrible on the audio… i will… hold your hand… we will walk… out the back door… off the porch… to the place where grass feels like cotton… you fear… them, don’t you? yes… money only means three forks at dinner… are you using both at once? at least… you have the enzyme… no id but the enzyme… jacket gives you away… but you… give away smokes… speak southern… fit in… will you?
will you? willing… greater than able… mom will talk looser… confide in you… has he had any since 8? answer… you… wear it all open… wear frugality… wear smaller town… wear humble… hide only lights and scent… father figure likes you best… can see little you… she gets it. she sees what i deal with. you crazies… a decade… but relate… dance with us. we know you can break it down… 30 years and they make you smile… you admire mom… far away dress… beads… hides excitement ‘til two drinks… you hide one up… would you?