The Bride The Groom
There is not a clear picture of the groom yet.
The groom sketches a self-portrait. He begins with the feet. They are practically shod. His feet ache. The shoes are black lace-ups with rubber soles. They are planted wide. He erases and begins again. He starts with the feet. He wears socks: nubby, cream, and thick. His feet get cold walking across the bare floor. He erases and begins again. He starts with the feet. They are bare, wide, the toes short. The big toes curl slightly up. He erases. He brushes the pale pink crumbs and pencil dust from the page, now smudged gray.
The Midwife and Sister-in-Law of the Groom and her Husband, the Younger Brother of the Groom and two children.
Parents of the Bride
The Matron of Honor and Sister of the Bride and her Husband and two children, one grown.
The Best Man and teenage Son of the Bride
The Responder and Brother of the Bride
and his Wife and two children
The Elder Brother of the Groom >and his Wife
and two children
Reptiles of wide variety
Birds of wide variety
Scene: The deck of a many-windowed wooden house, the bride’s parents’ house, high in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim at sunrise in late June. The red cliffs glow pink orange. Dead pine trees strike poses among the living. Multi-colored paper heart garlands blow in the breeze. Among the manzanita and cacti beyond the deck where the children sometimes search for stones and other treasures, the Bride, in pajamas, squats and rubs a horny toad behind the ears, who giggles in a reptilian way until a rather large and decrepit graying crow pulls the Bride inside the house by a curly lock. You can hear the rumble of complaint even with its beak closed.
Enter the Clown [or exit as it were from the house] wearing a sober and well-tailored gray summer suit and tie. In her pocket there is a perfectly folded pocket handkerchief.
Clo. Welcome. Welcome. We apologize for all the flowers. She sneezes. There are tissues available. She uses the pocket handkerchief to blow her nose loudly as Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring begins to play.
Enter the Family. The women and one girl wear flower wreaths and floral cotton dresses. It’s a riot of flowers. The men carry cameras and take pictures constantly. The men and boys wear shorts and loud plaid tops with flowers pinned to their chests. The Matron of Honor’s son sports a top hat with a flower wreath circling its brim. They gather around a table bedecked in white with brightly colored dinnerware and crystal stemware filled with orange juice. Also on the table, there are more flowers and nests each with a bird and different number of eggs. Other birds bring the Family hors d’oeuvres and drop them into their open mouths. The Family laugh and talk among themselves.
Enter the Midwife as Vilvadi’s Allegro from the Four Seasons begins. The Family takes their seats around the table. Enter the Groom and the Best Man. The Midwife and the Best Man are dressed as the others, though the Midwife’s flowers are embroidered with silk thread befitting her position. The Groom wears a white t-shirt and high-waisted, pleated, pinstripe pants held up by pink suspenders with a large, red-orange hibiscus bloom. He is barefoot. They all take their places standing at the end of the table. The Midwife pulls a gold piece from the Groom’s mouth, inspects it, bites it, shrugs, and puts it in her pocket. She pulls a piece of string from the hem of the Best Man’s cerise shorts. She pulls and pulls with one hand. Then with the other, she holds the top of the string attached to the shorts and gives a firm yank. She measures the string, holding her arms out and bites it in two so that she has a piece as long as one outstretched arm to the heart. A green, iridescent hummingbird whirs past and carries off the other half. She ties one end of the string to the wrist of the Groom. Pachelbel’s Canon in D begins and everyone stands.
Enter the Bride, the Mother, and the Father. The Bride walks betwixt. Their arms are linked. The Mother and the Father are dressed as the others. The Mother steals an intermission between acts in another play, a tragedy, to join this one. Her hair germinates whiskered white from her perfectly shaped head. A beautician has attached thick, long, black eyelashes and the Mother thinks the Father won’t like them, but he does. He loves his wife’s eyes. They glisten, they storm, they bug, they merry. The Bride wears a white cotton sundress embroidered with white flowers and a tall white crown. White tulle blows in a long tail behind her. She carries yellow roses. The Groom and Best Man sprout grins as big as soup bowls. They all beam at each other. It’s rather blinding in the early light.
Mid: Who gives the Bride?
The Mother wraps the string tied to the Groom ‘round and ‘round her hand. She places her bound hand upon his head and pushes him to kneeling. She leaves her hand on his head.
Mot: You will be true and good and careful. Full of care.
Mid: Who gives the Bride?
Mot: I will. I will it be. I do. I keep her as mine too. I give her you.
The Mother unbinds her hand and untwines a second string and puts it between her teeth. She ties the Groom to the Bride. The Bride pulls the second from the Mother’s teeth and ties it around the Mother’s finger. The Mother lifts the Groom from under his armpits, planting a kiss on his bald head on the way up. She takes the Bride’s face in both hands, brings it down to her own and kisses her. The Father guides the Mother to the head of the table.
Mid: Dearly beloved: Be love, be dear, love together, and witness. Bless me. [The Clown sneezes.] Bless you. All. Bless these two joined together by the Mother, a mother who births worry and care and raising up and joining and giving over while maintaining. She ties the string that binds sacred and true, a sacred and true string, a memory string, a union between the human and the divine.
Will you have this man to be your husband?
Bri: I will.
Mid: Will you have this woman to be your wife?
Gro: I will.
Mid: Will all of you as family and as witnesses to these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their having of each other?
Fam: We will.
The Midwife directs the Family to sit, and they sit at the table. The Bride and the Groom remain standing facing each other. The Groom lifts the veil and takes the Bride’s hands in both his.
Gro: I take you to be my wife, to have and to hold for all days and nights and times between the two, to love and to cherish. To too and too.
The Bride and the Groom exchange rings. The Midwife rummages in her pocket. She pulls out a steering wheel. Puts it back. She half pulls out a riding crop and quickly puts it back. She pulls out a tape measure and measures each and nods her head.
Mid: Just so. Look happily upon this couple who come to you seeking your blessing and assist them with your grace that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they’ve made.
All: Let it be.
Everyone sits. Geckos walk on their hind legs carrying trays between them with steaming bowls of porridge and cream, cinnamon, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, mangoes, pomegranates, peaches, passionfruit, melons, plums, ripe raspberries dripping, and plump purple bunches of grapes. They eat. Husbands peel grapes and feed them to their wives. Wives break apart pomegranates and immerse their hands up into the wrists tearing out flesh and seeds. With red juice staining from hand to elbow, they use the other hand to pick out one red glowing seed, hold it in the sunlight, toss it in the air for their husbands’ tongues to catch. The children turn crimson-faced and grow intent on shoveling porridge discreetly into their mouths.
Finished, the Younger Brother pulls out his guitar and begins to sing with the Midwife some song about two cats in the yard, and everyone joins. The Matron of Honor and her family recite a poem about old and new worlds, one departed and the other trembling and blooming with new stories. The Elder Brother’s two children recite the nursery rhyme,“The Owl and the Pussycat.” The Bride turns a little green at the idea of boats but feels better at hearing of moonlit dancing. The birds and reptiles squawk and hiss. They think there’s been too much mention of fanged felines and do not believe an Owl would ever marry a Pussycat. The Mother shushes them all and reads from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, her glasses perched at the end of her nose.
Mot: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal … Love suffers long and is kind; … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things … Love never fails … And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The Responder responds, the brother of the bride. Recall the Responder connects each families’ gifted reading, and in this case, a menagerie. Somehow, this son, this brother, this husband, this father weaves cross-species marriages with the thread of stories freshly told and love’s making easy. Then he tells of fathering and being fathered and of love. He deftly maneuvers the stick shuttle through the weft, love, to create his tapestry.
Blackbirds bring them dark chocolate and champagne, sparkling cider and jelly beans for the children. The one girl begins to sing, and the Bride and the Groom speak tied together by a vivid red string.
Gir: Splinted wings mend.
B&G: We place coats around each other’s shoulders to shelter beneath.
Gir: More than plumage, feathers dress wings.
B&G: We walk on the street side to block the other from harm.
Gir: Earthbound, blackbird does not see.
B&G: We play to keep the other from unwarranted seriousness.
Gir: Unfettered, blackbird unfold your wings, fly high.
B&G: We rub each other’s heads because their close enough to our hands; we grab each other for a dance because the music plays; we text each other something sweet because the thought arises.
Gir: Blackbird fly.
B&G: We trust the other to follow our imaginings.
Gir: Blackbird fly.
B&G: Take to the skies and make merry.
Gir: Blackbird fly.
Bri: Heart, soul, divinity…what is the word we search for?
B&G: We unlock this in each of us. Though now bound, we are free.
Tears pool before cresting the Groom’s cheeks leaving behind salt tracks. All are silent. Fingers search out hands.
Play Bach’s Arioso in G. The Midwife hands a paper to the wife to sign. The Wife hands to the Husband. The Husband to his Elder Brother. The Elder Brother to the Father. The Father to the Midwife who signs with a honeysuckle blossom and folds into an envelope which flies away. The Midwife stands and walks to the foot of the table where the Bride and the Groom sit.
Mid: Now that these two have given themselves to each other by solemn vows but merry, with joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings and the ministry of our words, I pronounce, announce, and proclaim that they are husband and wife.
The Midwife rummages in her pocket again and pulls out a plastic dinosaur. She gives this to the black-necked garter snake coiled at her feet. The snake uncoils and drapes itself around the dinosaur, darting its tongue at its belly. She finds a small indigo bottle and sets it on the table. She pulls out the stump of a candle and sets it on the table. She hefts out a galvanized steel tub and sets it at the Bride’s and Groom’s feet. She digs in the pocket biting her lip. Finds what she is searching for, pulls out a broom and dustpan, straightens out a few bent straws, bends to sweep up some dirt which she blows in the Bride’s and Groom’s face. Both sneeze and look askance. Each has a smudge in the middle of their forehead to remind them they are dust and will go the way the Mother goes when her intermission ends.
Mid: Let their love for each other be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads. Bless them in their work and in their companionship; in their sleeping and in their waking; in their joys and in their sorrows; in their life and in their death.
All: Let it be.
The Midwife picks up the candle stub the color of a Palo Cortado Sherry. Sticks it out into the sun which is over the rim now and hot. It ignites. She pulls out the shirt of the Groom from his chest and drips wax onto it. She repeats with the dress of the Bride. She picks up a very small tortoise just passing and presses its shell first into the wax on the Groom’s chest and then the wax on the Bride. It leaves behind the imprint of a heart.
Mid: Peace be with you.
All: And also with you.
The midwife uncorks the indigo bottle and pours its contents into the steel tub and pours and pours and pours until the tub is filled. Water is scarce in the desert, so it is only a miniscule bottle. Dirt, on the other hand is plentiful, so they wash each other’s feet. The sheets on their bed are white and freshly cleaned. The Groom washes the Bride’s feet, removing her shoes, and the Bride washes the Groom’s. Each turns the feet of the other in the direction the sun travels. The Groom’s shed bits of eraser. Pink pieces float in clear water smudging gray. The Groom’s feet become more and more defined with each journey, and the evidence of his true and generous nature which was there all along becomes real. The birds flutter. When the couple finishes, the birds bathe until the gray feathered crow scolds them.
Mid: You may kiss your bride.
The Best Man twists the end of a Chinese canon which explodes yellow purple blue pink gold silver confetti and glitter into the air. Peace is given and peace is received with shaking of hands, hands pull into hugs. Lips bestow kisses. Bubbles are blown. Strings are pulled and small explosions occur. There are wishes and anecdotes and performances and festivities.
Clo: Mother and Father, you open your home and give us an example of passionate love, faithful and unconditional, enduring and strengthening with time.
And you dearly beloved, honor us by joining our celebration where earth’s upheavals and slow changes tell of life’s wonders and of lives connected. You teach us gratitude. Go forth and live and love and laugh knowing grief will come.