James Galvin's poem "On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses" from our Fall 2014 issue has been selected by guest editor Sherman Alexie for Best American Poetry 2015!
On the Sadness of Wedding Dresses
On starless, windless nights like this
I can hear the wedding dresses
Weeping in their closets,
Luminescent with hopeless longing,
Like hollow angels.
They know they will never be worn again.
Who wants them now,
After their one heroic day in the limelight?
Yet they glow with desire
In the darkness of closets.
A few lucky wedding dresses
Get worn by daughters—just once more,
Then back to the closet.
Most turn yellow over time,
Yellow from praying
For the moths to come
And carry them into the sky.
Where is your mother’s wedding dress,
Where is your grandmother’s wedding dress?
Eventually they all disappear,
Who knows where.
Imagine a dump with a wedding dress on it.
I saw one wedding dress, hopeful at Goodwill.
But what sad story brought it there,
And what sad story will take it away?
Somewhere a closet is waiting for it.
The luckiest wedding dresses
Are those of wives
Betrayed by their husbands
A week after the wedding.
They are flung outside the double-wide,
Or the condo in Telluride,
And doused with gasoline.
They ride the candolescent flames,
Just smoke now,
Into a sky full of congratulations.
James Galvin has published seven books of poetry and two prose works. He teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.