Wed­ding song

The Iowa Review - - FRONT PAGE - Peter jay shippy

Mother was dressed in a cin­na­mon sari, pis­tils flour­ished from each of her four palms

as a man, my fa­ther, un­sheathed his dag­ger and leapt from an un­lit pyre to­ward her, out­side, pa­per

con­fetti fell, tick­er­tape, mummy snow, to honor a fresh batch of as­tro­nauts back from outer space

wav­ing to the throngs from firemist con­vert­ibles, Cadil­lacs and Thun­der­birds, an El­do­rado

pulled cir­cus cages jam-packed with prison­ers and booty, lop-eared moon war­riors glow­ing

like jel­ly­fish and chests of re­fined ura­nium, I re­mem­ber be­ing ma­rooned at Nana’s house

in Buf­falo, sum­mer af­ter­noons spent look­ing for some­thing to undo and find­ing wed­ding pho­tos

in the pi­ano stool, on TV the lu­nars were be­ing pelted with candy bars, Baby Ruth,

there was a look be­hind their whiskers that said we have swal­lowed the song that will open the lock,

Mother was dressed in a cin­na­mon sari, a woman, my Aunt Re­becca, was bal­anc­ing

on a spin­ning, wooden top, in another shot a bare-chested old man, pos­si­bly a holy man,

pos­si­bly my Un­cle Marvin, Nana said, had opened his wide-lapeled shirt, silk char­treuse,

to re­veal his sunken chest, cov­ered with tat­toos, Cadil­lacs and Thun­der­birds, an El­do­rado

snored on a vel­vet faint­ing couch and dozens of patchouli vo­tive can­dles burned ghost money

as a man, my fa­ther, un­sheathed his dag­ger and leapt into the white­out of the bunny hop mambo,

we have swal­lowed the song that will open the lock, a combo of cousins in plas­tic hula skirts

strummed “The Wed­ding Song” on plas­tic combs and ukes, I re­mem­ber be­ing ma­rooned at Nana’s house,

con­fetti fell, tick­er­tape, mummy snow, to honor the boy born dumb, son of a gun, the cat­boat

sail­ing a sea of tigers, steel­ies, and agates on a spin­ning, wooden top, in another shot

wav­ing to the throngs from firemist con­vert­ibles in Buf­falo, sum­mer af­ter­noons spent look­ing.

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