I have to thank David Horowitz of Rose Alley Press who sent me the title for this blog post. An epithalamiun is a wedding poem, or as wikipedia would have us believe, “a poem written for the bride on the way to her marital chamber.”
Last week, it was my deep honor to officiate a wedding. By the power vested in me, Andrew David Kingham married Jammie Emily Stauffer on June 20th on Storm Mountain in Salt Lake City in the pouring rain.
The location of the ceremony in the mountains of Utah was the best setting imaginable for this nature-loving couple. It rained so hard, a waterfall formed itself on my nose and I had to take off my glasses. As Andy tried to read his vows from a piece of paper, it melted onto his palm. The couple were offered several umbrellas and each time refused them, with Jammie throwing back her head into the rain and saying, “No umbrella. I love this.”
The pounding rain started during the reading of the epithalamium I wrote for the couple and, as a result, lots of wedding guests couldn’t hear the poem. I promised some folks at the reception that I would post the poem so they could read it in the warm, dry space of their computer rooms. So, here it is. Post-wedding, I have retitled it “Storm Mountain.” I hope it saw Jammie all the way to her marital chamber.
Do you know how a glacier pool shocks the body into daylight
when it splashes down like a shuttle? Do you know
the mountains I have seen?
Do you know how snow ridges itself into a continental shelf
when I slice through it, curving my way down the backbone
of a butte? What do you know about my history
Do you know how the dirty earth kisses my hands when I reach
into it? Do you know how my hands become roots, how my
fingers reach their thirsty heads toward the water table?
Do you know the trees I have blessed with the bottoms
of my feet? How many limbs have held me up like an offering.
Can you image how a mountain looks at you when you
sit on its shoulder, how the wind makes love to the pines
at the top of Mt. Agassiz.
I have heard them talking after.
They talk about how good it is not to miss one another.
Do you know how the gold leaf bodies of the salmon shake
when they erupt from the ocean? How the salt loves them.
Do you know how the deck of a ship holds its breath when it
crosses the Pacific north to Alaska, have you seen the Northern
Lights pull the sky through a prism?
There is just this and you, reaching your root hand
into the soil beside mine, until our fingers grow into
the same space of dirt, grow gnarly and twist together.
Your body beside mine in the tent listening to the wind
circle its hand on a tree’s back, ricocheting your body
off the cheek of the glacier lake. You with your eyes
on the neck of the mountain, feeling the mountain’s
breath, lifting the salmon from the crusty lips
of the sea.
When you walk next to me through the snow,
our feet break the surface and sink
several inches down.
The tracks we make look exactly like the ones
the first people made who crossed the land bridge
to North America. For the span of my life
as I walk across the earth, I want to look down
and see the tracks you leave next to mine.