Midnight After the Reception
By Sean Taylor

You take the treasures of a queen
And lay them at the feet of a whore,
Ignoring the heavily perfumed skin,
The sultry scent of sex,
The eyes smear-streaked with tears,
Blue and black and trailing eye shadow
And mascara in riverlets across her cheeks.

The room filled with latenight guests and comforters
Gazes, a swarm of eyes clumped thick with disbelief
As she throws herself in desperate apology.
"Surely he must refuse her,"
They say, "She isn’t worthy of him,"
As you fill your arms again
And heap gold baubles on the floor beside her.

They know of her wandering, stared wide-eyed
As she said "I do," then left the celebration
On the arm of a stranger.
They did not see the act, but they know her
Well enough. The guilt adorns her
As tightly as her disheveled dress,
And they pray thanks that they are more deserving.

You fasten the diamonds around her wrist,
Holding the hand that you know has not
Yet stopped holding that of others,
And brush your lips against
The swollen and bruised red-blue
That has kissed other lovers, unmentionable,
Feeling the sting of their hate in the joining.

You slip the ring onto her finger,
Claiming her again as your own bride,
Knowing that just hours ago,
She felt another man’s passion,
Allowed another man’s grunting and groping
To make her his bride for that moment,
And she gazes at the ring with wet eyes, blank, black, lifeless.

Only barely wooed, halfway resigned to life
As your only partner, the other half
Still dreaming of the rough, shadowed lust
Of the lovers she still plans
To meet, conjoin, hate in the days to come,
Her wrists sag heavily under the weight of your gold,
And she tells you in an unwanting lie: "I love you."

The partygoers watch as you lift her face,
Begging you to turn her away, mocking
Her atrocities, warning you about how it must
Look to the neighbors.
But you kiss her, ignoring their foolishness,
And tell her quietly, "I have no neighbors,
There is only you and me and my love for you."

© 2004