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Mary Agnes Dalrymple


Water Tender


The river
has not entered the house yet.

I pack framed photographs:
weddings, babies,
dead uncles, and grandparents,
set aside ceramic eggs,

balanced on wooden stands,
to reach the wedding cake couple,
equidistant between two photographs.

My mother,
in her borrowed wedding dress,
holding a bouquet of artificial flowers,
whiter than Aunt Rose Mary's silk skirt.

My father,
in his Navy uniform, bearing
the insignia of a Water Tender,

his cap worn tilted to the right.
Standing midpoint,
the wedding cake couple
represents their union.

Flesh colored paint overlaps
the neckline of the bride,
executed too quickly.

The groom's black top-hat
is worn, a wedding ring shape
encircles the edge of the crown.
My mother is dead,

my father has remarried. He's left
behind the photographs, the eggs,
the wedding cake couple.

The river enters an open door.
I salvage what I can.

Submitted: Thursday, July 10, 2003

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