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Cameo: Epithelamion

September 24, 2008

Cheekbone, chin, chignon;
Scrollwork, a profile carved in
Worn carnelian,

Russet and ivory;
Only a blur remains, there
Where her ringlets were;

Here, a tiny crack feathers
To the speck of stone
Hidden in the hollow

Of her throat, the ribbon
Strung with its diamond.
Great-Aunt Beatrice’s

Brooch, ornament she wore
In her own wedding, now
Pinned to my bodice

That feels like peach skin.
Velvet, velvet, the nap one way,
Cannot be touched

Against the grain.
Mannequin, mannequin,
Here I stand in

Off-white, with statice
Snarled in my hair hot
Under the umbrella lights

Of the photographer,
On the day before my marriage.
I can’t breathe—how this

Velvet loops me tight,
Wraps my torso, cocooning me,
Like the caterpillars,

Swaddled in kapok, whose
Tents swathe the vee of the wild
Plum… This dry champagne’s

A shade so pale,
The same shade as the sheaves
That spill open, heavy

Vellum, falling
Gracefully between Malachi
And Matthew, between

Old and new. Sepia
Script, penned in various
Hands, catalogues those

Birthed, dipped, wed and gone.
There’s a line where our names
Will go—brownish,

Blotched with age, like Great-
Aunt Beatrice’s hands as they
Pinned this on me,

The bride. Blank page.

by Pamela Johnson Parker

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  1. August 1, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    what word magic and word music – i never knew what was coming next and what came was always exquisite! plus the weaving of time, generations, and meaningful adornments that are all part of ‘wedding’ lore just really worked – thank you for this gem!

    ~ kasturi

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