My Reception | Nina Bannett

You read halcyon, you read joy, you read endless sea.
This script you followed. We could not ask you to sign our Ketubah.
You could not enter our yichud. An outsider.
You could not find a bridesmaid dress in the right color.
You had given birth a few months earlier.
You drove hundreds of miles and beat Hurricane Ernesto to be there.
You refused to stay at the hotel I picked out.

I understood without understanding. I buried disappointment inside
my bridal gown. You didn’t help me to glimpse what had altered.
I laughed at your toast, a prank in which you pretended to sing.
Your son grabbed your microphone, couldn’t bear to be without you.
For those few minutes, his raw screams took over.

I fingered my anger like raw pearls, debris transformed
into the tiara I wore, the necklace I was given. The pain I bore like a jewel.
Within two years, we ended. Perhaps you were unwilling to share me,
or merely waiting to dance the hora and flee. Stare down at the mangled roots,
drive over downed trees, get out of the car, pick up the broken branches.

————
Nina Bannett has poems in Bellevue Literary Review and CALYX. Her chapbook Lithium Witness was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011.  Nina’s first full-length collection of poems, These Acts of Water was published earlier this year by ELJ Publications. She is currently working on a full-length collection that explores a close friendship between two women that has ended.

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