On a night many nights after we spent
Five days a week in a fluorescent-bulb-lit classroom
You made grilled salmon with pesto,
sweet roots roasted in your white oven.
You poured glass after glass of Beaujolais
I had to hover my hand over the glass
To stop you. We killed two bottles.
Talk of decades ago, I was young,
You were younger, our words danced around the years
Wove stories of those you knew and I didn’t
Or ones I knew and you didn’t
Or boys and girls, now grandparents, that we both knew—
In the morning I saw the photos
Of your daughter’s Indian wedding
Bridesmaids with hennaed hands and arms
Each arm extended as they danced.
The groom and bride weighed down
Under their rich wedding garments, their crowns.
You saw to it that a branchlet of cypress from your yard
was tucked with the flowers pinned on orange cloth.
You’d tended the plant for a chuppa someday—
Now it graced the mandap. Your husband
tried to look comfortable in turn-up khussas,
long white kurta.
We could’ve talked all day but
I had a train to catch, you had work to do
All the time I rode back to Boston
Ignoring announcements , next stop New Haven, Mystic, Kingston
Things were happening—unfolding, the media said
In California. Long guns, body armor, shooters,
“they came prepared” the police chief told reporters—
So many dead, so many trapped in offices,
so many watching, so many questions, so many theories,
so many posts online.
Rifles and handguns, holiday banquet,
police chase, shootout— we‘ve seen this movie
more than once.
Assault rifles, handguns, ammo rounds,
remote control toy car, explosive device.
Thumb drives, cellphones, car rental agreement.
The AG said, “This is not what we stand for,
this is not what we live for.”
Prove to me she is right. Show me we live for
the wedding day, sunny November, pale bride,
dark groom under the mandap,
the grandmother in a bright blue shawl.
A day of peace, utter joy under bright Connecticut sky—
–what we live for, who we are.
~Lynne Viti, 2015
Originally published in 2016, in the literary journal, Amuse Bouche