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Tennessee Wedding on VHS

by Karyna McGlynn

Here I come down the aisle again, all a-blush
and halting across the carpet’s carnation plush.

The man at the altar unblinking—eyes negative
black—his smile striving forth to get me, guts me,
                                            stops me lockstep.

His smile down under the hem of my frothy things,
fingering the bones of my catfish corset
                              like he can guess my true name.

A tail tumbles out the back of his morning coat.
              A splice.
                            He turns to the pastor, says,
“Someone’s been telling lies about us.”

I’m kneeling at the altar. The pastor calls for
                                             the laying on of hands:
“Who will bless this woman’s tender heart and loins?”
               A silence.

Not the groomsmen. They are newspaper flat.
The bridesmaids have long since dissolved
like sugar in their satin shoes.
                                                             This is how “I do.”

               A shake.
There’s our waxed limo lurching forth.
There’s his slaw-white boutonniere
               against the green hills of Tennessee.

               A scratch.
Then I am perched on his mother’s vinyl ottoman.
               She props her embolistic ankles on my lap.
               She sees babies under my peplum hips.

Cottonmouths slink through the French doors,
                               coil round my kitten heels.
The men on the porch take turns handling
                               my husband’s ten-foot fishing pole.

               A prayer.
“He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
                               Everyone’s drunk on milk punch.
                               No one’s watching where they step.

During the Superbowl spectacular,
                               a stray pig gets loose on the field.
               A cheer goes up.
Something tickles my insides like a catfish whisker.

Quietly, my father-in-law feeds me
                               frosting roses from his finger.
From the kitchen, we hear,
               “I’ll get a gun in her hand if it kills her.”


Karyna McGlynn is the author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl (Sarabande Books, 2009), as well as Scorpionica (New Michigan Press, 2007) and The 9-Day Queen Gets Lost on Her Way to the Execution (Willow Springs Editions, forthcoming). Her poems have recently appeared in The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, West Branch, and elsewhere. McGlynn is the 2015–2016 Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. (11/2015)

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