Friday, May 31, 2013

Divided Tongues Like Fire

Within the pink-licked walls of St. Patrick’s Church
in a suburb of Kennett Square, the wedding Mass 
creaks along like a player piano roll
as the pastor drones the familiar instructions
-Simon says rise, Simon says be seated, 
drop to your knees- designed to keep 
the sleepy herd from nodding off. 
The congregation mumbles its lines 
 without enthusiasm, except for my mentally challenged aunt,
who bellows and groans at the top of her lungs
as if she was possessed. 

The priest has already unspooled the line
that will lash my cousin and his buxom bride
together forever in the eyes of God,
clouded with cataracts though they may be.
Odd that this pasty, bespectacled man
should be granted this divine authority.
The rest of us mumble along to those 
monotonous hymns, as at the top of her lungs,
my aunt hollers Amen, Amen.

After the service, I smile and greet her warmly
as she's being wheeled across the parking lot
toward her waiting carriage, the group home
minivan. She frowns and turns her head away, 
refusing to speak to me. I've never seen her do 
 anything like this before. I'll admit, 
I'm rattled by the snub. 
My grandmother always called my aunt 
her "angel sent down from heaven." 
The nurse is taking her back to the home
so she won't be at the reception, 
where I will sit alone and drink myself into 
a state of tongue-tied oblivion, wondering if
the God I wrote off so long ago
as being nonexistent 
was enlisting her, his earthly mediator,
to deliver me a message, 
without a word and yet 
perfectly eloquent.

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