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They Said I Was a Crying Bride Poem

They Said I Was a Crying Bride Poem

Mr. and Mrs. Clemente Ríos—
Had anything ever sounded so evening and elegant,
Words from centuries of behaving. These were quiet
Words, but sitting on the lap of Uncle Thrill,
Whispered to me in church by Cousin Hand:
As I helped to cook in the kitchen on a Sunday,
My hands were full of salt, but in me
I was full not of bones but of feeling,
A scaffolding of my shape
Made with all the little pins they put in new shirts.
It was one thing to look at the outside of my hand
But something else to look on the inside,
Mr. and Mrs. Clemente Ríos—
It was a marriage into this family
On the outside—salt, something regular,
Just a wedding, like air and like water, something
Regular and quiet in this way
To the world which made its rules.
But in me was a deeper shore
On whose edge I stood
Looking out toward the farther inside.
I could see Clemente sometimes
In a soaring boat. When he came to me
He was wet, some of that ocean
Falling from so much of itself through my eyes.
It was not unhappiness.
Had I a mountain terrain
Inside myself, rather than an ocean,
Were he a sawyer and not a mariner,
Then the water would be something else,
Something that had clung to him from the trees.
Pine needles instead would fall from my eyes,
Pine and sap, scent and june beetles.
It was only luck that this was not the case,
That instead of flying, instead of shouting,
Instead of all the things that could have
Come from my eyes, the water being water
Was so easily explained as tears.

Albert Ríos
first published in Quarterly West, no. 47,
Autumn/Winter 1998–99

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