Wedding at Haystack Rock

by Leah Mueller

Evening ceremony, pebble sand 
       inauspiciously littered
              with the bodies of dead seagulls.
               
        You in billowing shirt 
                       and black pants: me
                  in pink lace dress,

   both velvet.  In the distance
           kids play in the sand
                with long sticks.  You are not 
                       their father, any more 
                               than I had one. Husband you understand,

     not boundary-setting: 
           my children have long 
             since learned to comprehend 
                         the reality of tiny spaces.
                     
  They draw circles around 
             their bodies, breathe with 
                    the required amount of oxygen.

  Your sister's friend arrives,
          red-faced and drunk.
                   
          She gives us an ocean photo
               framed upside down, and I 
                   pack it dutifully, every time 
                                    
           we move to a new home.  The woman

dies of alcoholism a few 
        years later, but you and I

                    remain stubbornly alive, married.
                       Despite intention, we 
                               won't last long, either.  
             
My wedding ring
      falls into the sand, but
          the minister finds it, seconds
                 before it disappears from sight.

      I lose the ring again in Chicago

 after loving somebody else, but we
     retrace our footsteps, and find it
                 underneath a bar stool.
         Now, the golden circle
            rests placidly on my finger. 
         '
  My son announces plans
         for his own, elaborate wedding.  My daughter
                      remains alone, fierce and tiny
      in her basement apartment.

You take red pills
     for your blood pressure.
           School friends are worse, dying
                  in their mid-fifties, bellies
                      
           hanging in defeat, like useless wings.
                                   

      Your fire is visible
                  to everyone except you.
                                 
I see it when you forget to be careful.

           I want to remind you
                  that caution never amounted
                         to much. Those fallen seagulls
                     
               followed set flight patterns
                      until their wings failed them at last.

Again, in December,
       I set out for the outcropping,
                 try to walk the entire distance alone,
                             but the bitter gusts turn me around.
                                              
                         The rocks stare through
                           my windshield with
                             their frozen eyes.

             I recall how young you still were
                         in those velvet wedding pants
    
                             as I pack them into yet
                                   another cardboard box, and wonder  
                                         if our constant movement 
                                     will ever be enough
                                                                  
                             to keep us alive.

 

leah-mueller

Leah Mueller is an independent writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of one chapbook, “Queen of Dorksville” (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2012), and two full-length books, “Allergic to Everything” (Writing Knights Press, 2015) and “The Underside of the Snake” (Red Ferret Press, 2015). Her work has been published in Blunderbuss, Sadie Girl Press, Origins Journal, Talking Soup, Silver Birch Press, Cultured Vultures, and many other publications. She is a regular contributor to Quail Bell magazine, and was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival. Leah was also a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest.