Words for a Wedding by Paul Hunter

Wednesday, August 31, 2022 8:00 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

For Phoebe & Scott, June 11, 2022

A marriage is a waiting and an arrival, an endless joining and parting, a balance of needs and desires, of work and play. It is both the urge and the reason, the plan and its delay, the measure of everything we chance, win or lose, in the night-to-night and day-by-day.

I once had a terrible class of eighth graders. The trouble was mostly the girls, who had started to blossom out beyond the boys, who were the usual dolts and delinquents, but still quiet and polite. The girls felt their dawning rivalry, and were merciless with each other. They drew blood any way they could. All I could do was break up the fistfights and threaten them with the cops.

And then one chilly day, hopeless, at an utter loss, I saw it was Valentine’s Day. And I asked the kids to take out paper and pencil and describe something someone did for them, that convinced them they were loved. Anything. Some kids wrote about their parents, sisters and brothers. Some told long stories. Some kids made stuff up. When they were done, they wanted me to read them all outloud, without saying whose was whose. So I shuffled them up and did. This one girl had written “He gives me flowers without picking them.” That was it. “He gives me flowers without picking them.” How do you even do that? But there it was, and it cut deep, and got to the heart of the matter. Honoring the transitory beauty in the moment, appreciating that a cut flower will have no offspring. That all it has is this moment. Stunning, irresistible, maybe a heartbeat too early or too late.

That is why we are here. That is the kind of creatures we are. Because someone can touch someone else in a way no one else can even see. And that everyone should be treated that well, in that secret invisible way. “That flower over there, by the fence? That one, the brightest one, is yours.”

When it works, we stand together against the unfeeling world. Somebody’s got our back. Yet even when it works, it sometimes comes and goes. We have to 

reconnect, we have to not forget to reconnect. Even in our momentary joys. Even when we let go a minute, we need to recall our promises, and double back, and hold on like we still mean it. And reconnect with all our heart.

Paul Hunter

Paul Hunter is the author and poet living in Seattle. His most recent book is a second cowboy novel set in Texas, Mr. Brick & the Boys, out from Davila Books in January. A third cowboy book is nearing completion, Untaming the Valley, set in a fictional spot in Southwestern Montana. He has several poetry collections, including Stubble Field (Silverfish Review Press), Ripening (Silverfish Review Press), and Breaking Ground (Silverfish Review Press), which received the 2005 Washington State Book Award. 

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