Warming Words

When she tells me she’s getting married, I am not surprised. This decision has been a decade in the making. The date, the place, and what awaited determination, small stories of her journey, these emerged in our conversations throughout that five days in Anaheim—and her request that I read a poem at the ceremony.

This will be the fourth time I have been so honored, fifth if I count the time that a poem I gave to the bride-to-be at her shower was read by her maid of honor at the ceremony—”Much Like an Arch This Marriage,” by John Ciardi. Poetry marks these milestones for me.

It is a serious responsibility and perhaps that is why I am asked, that and my familiars know my love of this art form. I have written about my first time, searching for just the right words to wrap around the couple, my commitment to memorizing Robert Frost’s “Master Speed.” Thank goodness. I carried my copy of the poem but had forgotten my glasses. The bride’s father called me the next morning to thank me, stunned that I had memorized and recited for his beloved daughter.

My son asked me to read for him and my wonderful daughter-in-law at their wedding. That unleashed a different level of search. I waffled between two until I settled on ee cummings gem that begins, “love is more thicker than forget…” On their special day nestled in the towering redwoods, those words warmed my world, fit the puzzle of building a life, “mad and moonly/…sane and sunly,” together, pandemic and all, perfectly.

The third opportunity came with an invitation from a former student. She, too, has been a subject here before. When she asked, there was no wondering why. We had lived through an eighth grade language arts class together and continued our relationship beyond those 184 days—and still. (We still find a reason to recite “Nothing Gold Can Stay” occasionally.) Jane Hirschfield’s “A Blessing for a Wedding” called to me. For the obvious reason, yes, but more for its connection to the natural world and the community of all living things.

Now I had to pick another for this wedding of my dear friend and colleague—just the right words, no generic choice would do. I was down to four when Suleika Jouad and her “Isolation Journals” newsletter shared Donika Kelly’s “Love Poem,” from her book Renunciations.

“Let this be the moment of remembering.” Just the right words…

5 thoughts on “Warming Words”

  1. What a beautiful poem to start a couple on their journey together. Finding the right words, whether our own or someone else’s, to share at a special occasion is a gift that you seem to possess. It is no wonder that you are asked to read a poem to celebrate and commemorate these special events.

  2. Trish, you obviously have a way with words, being thoughtful and mindful of your choices, to be requested to speak at weddings. What a honor to be part of their special day.

    1. Thanks. What I love to do is find the ones that work for the couple. When I find it, I know (though sometimes it’s hard to deny the second and third place contenders their moment. So many beautiful poems.)

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