Saturday

Jun. 8, 2002

Wanting to Dance with the Bride

by Kathryn Kysar

SATURDAY, 8 JUNE 2002
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Poem
: "Wanting to Dance with the Bride," by Kathryn Kysar from Dark Lake (Loonfeather Press).

Wanting to Dance with the Bride

White: the silhouette of hair, shoulders, the flow
of the gown against the cathedral windows
steaming in the August Superior sun,
White haze on the big lake, white clouds,
White cake with almond filling,
White gardenias for the mothers,
White carnations for the teenage nieces
with nose rings, purple hair, and clunky shoes,
White for the flash of the friend's camera bulb,
White for the teeth of the smiling groom,
White for the napkins, the thick paper of the guest book,
the ostrich feather-plumed pen,
White for the baby's breath in the bride's hair,
White for the porcelain cups filled with coffee,
White for the cream, not the bluish tinge of the skim milk,
White for the aprons of the matrons who serve the buffet,
White for the scuffed shoes of the three-year-old flower girl
as she strews petals on the lawn,
White for my blank face,
White for the sheets of my empty hotel room bed,
White for ignoring how he ignores here,
White for her hope for children,
White for his absence in her bed at night,
White to make me blank, uncaring,
White for transcendence,
White for wanting to dance with the bride.


On this day in 1997, the Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola died. He was born in 1920; his birth date is unknown. In 1952 he wrote the Palm Wine Drinkard, a novel about a man who travels to the spirit world to rescue his bartender.

It's the birthday of Sara Paretsky, born in Ames, Iowa (1947). She's written ten novels about V. I. Warshawski, a female detective from Chicago who carries a gun and doesn't take any back-talk. The books sell well overseas, particularly in Japan. The translator of the series has figured out how to make Warshawski's speech strong and direct without violating any of the conventions of feminine speech in Japanese.

On this day in 1867, Mark Twain boarded the side-wheel steamer "The Quaker City," bound for a five-month journey to Europe and the Mediterranean. The San Francisco paper Alta California had promised to finance the trip if Twain would agree to send bulletins of his progress, and they said they'd pay him twenty dollars for every letter he wrote for publication. When he got home, the American Publishing Company released the letters as The Innocents Abroad. It sold seventy thousand copies in its first year, and was Twain's bestselling work during his lifetime.

On this day in 1892 Emily Dickinson wrote to the critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson to ask his opinion of her work. She had probably seen articles of his in the Atlantic Monthly, and she sent him several of her poems. This time she wrote: "Would you have time to be the 'friend' you should think I need? I have a little shape: it would not crowd your desk, nor make much racket as the mouse that dents your galleries. If I might bring you what I do--not so frequent to trouble you--and ask you if I told it clear, 'twould be control to me." He told her the gait of her poetry was "spasmodic," and never offered to help her publish any of her work, but she continued to write to him until her death twenty years later. When her first collection of poetry was published after her death, he admitted in an essay that the six editions it had gone through in six months was "a suddenness of success almost without a parallel in American literature."


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