The Wedding Tree
On the half-bare branches of the tulip tree
old wedding invitations are hanging. The parents’
weddings, invitations to this one. Beyond
in a field sits the white marquee.
The tree is more mysterious than the bride.
The wedding acceptances are hung by ribbons
which twirl and move in the breeze. The tree
invites you to attend, to pass its portals
which are no portals really, into the field
which perhaps is the field of Pasternak
that all who take marriage vows must cross
clutching little silver tins of wedding cake.
Long after the wedding is over and the tree
has its last ribbon shredded by the wind
and the tiniest edge of a card falls down
like a confetti speck on the grass
the ghosts of the names on the cards
still hover and cling to the tree, not
as in the manner of words but clouds
which trees have traditionally held.
A grey sky like a governess
in a calf-length coat
and a skirt longer than that.
A day when clichés might be spoken
with the kindliest of intentions
and passed to the listener with gloves
and no response needed. The grey sky
the grey governess with the grey gloves
doing all the talking.