Friday, 28 June 2013
Kindling the light
Weddings are a bit like Christmas: all that preparation and it's all over in a flash. What I do remember from that time of tip-toe-ing across the emotional minefield of other people's feelings --isn't that what a family wedding is when you boil it down? -- was an overarching desire to avoid the fairy-tale aspect of the whole thing. I didn't want it to be the best day of my life because I was still very young and I really wanted to have things to look forward to. Still do, frankly.
We didn't write our own vows. The stark and rather bleak promises of the traditional wedding service are more authentic than any earnest couple can come up with; they describe marriage more accurately than anyone standing on the threshold of such a partnership is able to understand. It's only after years of struggling to live those vows that you come anywhere near to comprehending what they mean. Young as we were, we must have suspected some tiny part of that, mainly from looking at the marriages around us.
Early on in this NaBloPoMo, I went on for a bit about Phyllis McGinley. "Mid-century Love Letter" summed up our desires and terrors, although it was closer to the end of the century when it was read at our service. I'm pretty sure we appalled my very Anglican mother-in-law, but she wasn't in favour of the match to begin with:
Stay near me. Speak my name. Oh, do not wander
By a thought's span, heart's impulse, from the light
We kindle here. You are my sole defender
(As I am yours) in this precipitous night,
Which over earth, till common landmarks alter,
Is falling, without stars, and bitter cold.
We two have but our burning selves for shelter.
Huddle against me. Give me your hand to hold.
So might two climbers lost in mountain weather
On a high slope and taken by the storm,
Desperate in the darkness, cling together
Under one cloak and breathe each other warm.
Stay near me. Spirit, perishable as bone,
In no such winter can survive alone.
One little vestige of the fairy-tale did manage to creep in. My wedding bouquet. I loved it and when it was brought to me as I waited in the church basement, I really felt like a bride. It's a good thing I had to toss it; the most beautiful things have to be let go if you ever hope to keep them.