Reformed and Made Whole in Marriage

by Chelsea Kerwin

Perhaps due to the insufficient ceremony
to the ceremony, the bride and groom
delayed their vows with the symbolic
pouring-of-jars-of-sand into a single vessel,
the kind you might find on an oak desk
with a fully constructed miniature ship inside,
canvas sails stiff in their pregnancy.

The groom poured first, smiling
after the few grains that flew off on the breeze.
Already it was clear to me that the larger jar
was far more than half-full, but the bride
was determined and a little drunk.
She transferred her sand in sloppily,
like someone doling out cheap tequila shots.
A little pile formed on the grass between them,
like time passed in a bottomless hourglass.

I’ll never forget how, in that darkening evening
on a lawn beside a river, a woman in a long white gown
brushed and scooped at sand in a bottleneck,
making more room until her small jar’s worth fit,
until she found herself standing in a square of desert.

And what if I told you it wasn’t just me,
but many women in the watching crowd
who felt the small feral urge to seize
and smash that bottle? Some of us grew excited,
sweat beading on the curve of the upper lip.
Some were staid, smoothing the lap of their dress.

Chelsea Kerwin earned an MFA from Bowling Green State University and won two Devine Fellowships while completing a poetry thesis. She resides in Baltimore with her partner and their owner, a Siberian husky named Ares. She has been published in The Madison Review, The Tulane Review, Contrary, and Hobart.