Belated Epithalamium
That morning after running 
the bricked-in campus 
some far-off bright fall day—
a flash to my left as the hawk 
scored a squirrel then swept it 
into an oak where it held it 
with an almost tenderness. 
It was like watching 
a sculpture made of smoke
that would materialize 
a moment, change shape, 
then disappear. A masque 
might be made of it, some 
experimental film. The students 
gawking, everyone watching. 
As if nothing sinister ever 
occurred in broad light. 
Before we married, I suffered 
insomnia. Remember? 
We were living on separate 
continents, which could 
have been planets: 
everything that moved 
moved by inversion—our watches, 
the weather, the whether-or-nots
we’d see each other again. 
Weeks without sleep, I took 
a wrong turn, forgot the way 
home. We’re warned against 
shutting our eyes 
to things we don’t want 
to see coming, as if our lives 
were an overnight shift, not 
a series of risks or random 
events. You spent a good hour, 
maybe more, talking me back 
by phone, treating confusion’s 
fact as simple happenstance. 
When you returned next spring 
so did sleep, delivering 
the hawk as it tore through 
night toward the still-living thing 
locked in the tree’s darkening 
branches. I remember 
the damp sap of that dream—
across the quad, two cardinals 
whistling back and forth 
with such sweetness. 
It would take me a decade 
to vow I’d see us through. 
Trust me, you kept saying, 
until pulling into the drive 
I heard myself answer, I do.
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