Wednesday Poem

On a Marriage that Was to Take Place atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

for Nick and Katie

Yesterday, right when our call got dropped,
I was going to tell you something about marriage.

I was going to tell you something gnomic,
a maxim worth getting engraved.

I’ve since forgotten,
but I believe it was akin to saying that, like Truth,
marriage is impossible to define in verbal space.

So, I guess I’m glad I forgot. The words
would’ve seemed either too hastily conceived for their subject matter
or else weightless, enigmatic – without impact.

I think it was Auden who whined, “Marriage is rarely bliss,”
though he lightened the phrase by encapsulating it in the context of modern
physics –
namely, at least it has the ability to take place,
and that should be enough to bring bliss equal to Buddha’s Emptiness.

So, I’m happy our call got
for the dial tone was
the pithiest aphorism on marriage any sentient life could’ve produced.

The key word is “produced.”


This is what marriage is not:

Socrates gurgling hemlock
on his dusty prison cot,
giggling as he glimpsed a dikast’s deformed cock;

glittering light on a sundial,
in front of which two boys, dressed
to give witness at trial,
fight. Both of them give it their best

as red balloons filled with helium
become tiny, nondescript dots
against a sunset and fumbled rum
speckles their t-shirts with spots;

Nietzsche tenured for philology
at Basel; Nietzsche feverishly etching
Fick diese scheiße! on a Jena clinic’s wall; biology
predetermining the team for which he was pitching;

a poem; a hot dog; cocaine;
a discharged Kalashnikov
engendering generational pain
somewhere in Saratov

circa 1942;
this is what marriage is not:
hatred, jealousy, ballyhoo,
obsessive yearnings for a yacht;

this is what marriage is not:
anything one pair of hands has wrought.

by Christopher Gorrie
from Aaduna, Winter/Spring 2014