Photos of Your Daughter’s Wedding Under the Mandap, Not the Chuppa

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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

 

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