“Musicians at the Wedding” by John W. Evans

John W. Evans


All week at the wedding
the musicians keep practicing
over the garage, during the rehearsal,
in the basement at night,
on the back porch while it rains.
Even the grass after the rain
worries someone in the kitchen.
The tables and caterers, the flowers
and the muddy road to the barn
are covered in lights. This is a good time,
someone says, to take five, guys,
or fifty. The musicians are soggy, too.
They start again: five or six bars
of the bridal march, the chorus, the last encore.
On the porch a bartender is humming
the first dance as he bins the ice and juices,
orange and lemon. His cherries
are staked on tiny plastic swords
the wedding guests will make a great show
of plucking hilt-first.
They stand en garde,
a warning term in fencing,
the first sport played in the Olympics.
In the original en garde position fencers
held their back hand in the air
to lift lanterns during duels.
Back and forth to the bar the guests
litter the grass with broken promises.
This is what happens when you fall
in love: you dance all night, you collapse
for one reason or another
into the wet grass.

from The Fight Journal


John W. Evans: “I wrote the poems in The Fight Journal to make sense of an experience about which I felt strongly biased: my divorce. I wanted to recognize the humanity of all involved on the page because this was something I struggled to do in real life. I hoped to find closure, healing, and an answer to two questions. Why had my marriage failed? How had I been complicit in that failure? Adrienne Rich’s “From An Old House in America” was the formal model for the long title poem. Marta Tikkanen’s ‘The Love Story of the Century’ was a precedent for writing about these dynamics. Both poems are personal favorites.” (web)

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