The Wedding Day

On this sunny August day chicory and Queen Anne’s lace grace the Illinois roadside.

Red-winged blackbirds call o-ka-leee in a ripening field of grain.

I ride to the little white church, the church of my parents and grandparents.

On this golden day I am about to marry my heart’s desire.

We stand before the people, not touching, like strangers.

The old minister in his rusty black plain suit delivers a weary message often given before.

“Hurry, hurry,” I want to say.

“We want to begin living happily ever after.”

Then come the admonishments to care for each other in sickness and in health.

We have no imagination for sickness, never having been ill.

My almost husband has spent the summer following the wheat harvest from Texas to Colorado.

He is tanned and fit.

We answer “I will” glibly and innocently.

We cannot know the great joys and great sorrows that await us.

Finally we sit down to the wedding dinner.

I announce that I am very hungry.

A wedding guest says primly, “You are not supposed to be hungry.”

But I am hungry, hungry for the lovely dinner, for our wedding night, for our life together.

My new husband and I hold hands under the table covered with the chaste white linen tablecloth.

Helen Wade Alderfer worked many years as editor of various Mennonite magazines. This poem is taken from The Mill Grinds Fine: Collected Poems (DreamSeeker Books, 2009) and is used by permission.

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