Vow (an excerpt)

What does a white dress not resemble?  Shattered glass.  A burning house.

I had always imagined the day would look like:  velvet backdrop onto which the landscape is projected like a sad film. Somewhere in that picture, a declaration.

But before long we’ll enter the house.  You’ll notice a man with dark hair looking out the window.  Tell me what you see in him.

 

 

A locked room, but what else—? 

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Our house burns with light.  He is a shattered window overlooking the desert.  I am smoldering in a field of dead poppies.

The fire is tearing at floorboards, the rooms, us.  It’s the second night, and already we realize the danger of bringing children into a barren landscape.

So we bury our vows one by one.  We are pieces of an altar collapsing from the inside.

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I respect most the men who’ve refused me:  the bridegroom, with his corridor of locked rooms;  you, the light descending on a burned house; Saint Jude of the lost causes, despite the roses I leave at his scorched altar.

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In a film version of this story, I wandered a corridor filled with locked rooms:  endless foyers, a nursery, the master suite. Days passed and I began to pray.  When one of the doors opened, I found only the door to another room.

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The house won’t stop burning.  I had always imagined marriage differently:  a garden, tasteful furniture, and church on every holiday.  Once the fire began, I tried lighting candles, but saw that the tiny wicks had been gutted from the wax.

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I dream another me exists in the burning house, reading aloud from what I have written.  Broken glass.  A sad film.  The awkward silence.

I had always thought night would feel like:  an electric current, the most startling numbness in every fingertip.  Throughout the landscape, a small fire would still be blazing.

But somehow in the dream I’ve grown wings.  Tell me, does this change everything—?

 


I want to use them so badly, but I don’t know how—

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Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirteen books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012),Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and (with Carol GuessX Marks the Dress: A Registry (Gold Wake Press, 2013).  Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation.  She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo.

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