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Wedding Poem. (for Carolee and Lewis)

Yes is at the heart of it - No matter the words you say or how you say them; No matter the sign you make: Cross, star, crescent moon, candle flame; Between them, across their brow, Sprinkled over bowed heads, Or angled into eyes turned skyward, It is Yes all the same, even if He simply holds her hand in silence. It is Yes when they walk down a path Between family and friends - The nervous fathers breathing slowly; The mothers' glossy eyes flying backward through time To their own solemn aisles. Or Yes again when they climb a goat path High in Nepal, where the Lama pours milk Into their cupped hands. In the forests of Senegal The elders lead the children into the green cathedral, A branch of ebony raised above their heads. And Yes in the sun-chromed Aegean sand, With the smell of olives and fresh bread and plum-blue wine, Where the whole town joins hands And dances before the lacy hem of the sea, Seining their lives with a net of blessings. Yes, the wedding clasp, the braided fingers, The trust beyond the grasp of reason, The lover's voice more familiar each day. Yes, to his secret smile, watching her in the morning as she sleeps. And Yes to that touch of protection When she takes his arm and tells him with her eyes, ''Yes, always yes.'' And then all the gifts: Dresses and rare spices; Lambs with brass bells; Copper pots and music boxes; Savings bonds and silver lockets. All the mementos that are given To mark the couple's promise And so the guests themselves will keep The memory of giving. On a rainy May morning Or a snow-brushed December night; In a grass-thatched cottage with a peat fire smoking Or in a mirror-glazed hall in the high heart of summer - We can face each other And say Yes together.

Yes, in the most hopeful of times. Yes, spoken even louder in the time of darkest fears. Yes, for every living creature, For all the brothers and sisters, Friends and lovers, Mothers and fathers. And Yes again for the newest pairing, For their own small voice That rises between them. When the guests have gone, When the family and friends have traveled to their homes And the clamor of celebration has changed To the crystal of quiet days; When the husband and wife stop to look back - One or ten or fifty years after today - And find in each other's look still The beginning of home, Knowing someone else's life as you know your own We won't be surprised if they remember this gathering, This single arching assent we lifted up about us all, An unbound unspoken praying. And Yes, Yes, for the promise, for the word - Said, not because we have to, But because we take such lasting pleasure In the saying.

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