The Surfboard Bride

i. For Richer Or Poorer, Dude.


You’d once said (out of the blue, as God knows

Neither of us had reason to bring up the subject) you’d like

To be married on Hookipa Beach—well, not on the beach per se,

But surfing the pipeline, in full bridal regalia, all brocade and beads,

Groom in tails and trunks.  I’d laughed, but you swore

With an unsettling quantity of solemnity and profanity

That you were quite serious, damnit even though I pointed out

How you could probably dispense with planning the reception

And photographer, as you’d be taken away

By inexperience—indeed, you’d never seen a body of water

Any larger than the Kinzua Reservoir—and the undertow,

No one around to catch the bouquet save the divers,

But you said, If you get to the point where you say “I do”,

You’re pretty much left for dead, anyway.


ii. Movie Day Is Paddle To The Sea.


We’d known each other forever, or anyways

All the time that counted; together from kindergarten on,

Riding the same bus until you and your mom moved

Over to Fifth Street, so we’d sat together (and to hell

With the prospect of contracting girl cooties) at lunch,

On the swings at rec, and always but always

For movie day—which, this particular day,

Was Paddle To The Sea, and as I sat

And watched the small, hand painted wooden craft

Navigate the great blue ribbon which bisects

The land of apple pie and Chevrolet

All the way to the Gulf of Mexico and into the great, blue ocean

It was as nothing else—that gym, the regular, comforting clack

Of the ancient eight-millimeter projector, the other kids,

And, for that forty-odd minutes, even you—did not, could not exist.

As the lights came up, I looked over in your direction

And noticed there were the remnants of tears on your cheeks.

Hey, it’s OK to cry, I said (girls were allowed such luxuries,

After all), but you looked at me—even at that early age,

Simply stunned at the depth and breadth of my misunderstanding,

My utter stupidity—and said, in a tone that neither sought

Nor brooked any argument, That just can’t happen.

No toy boat ever makes it to the ocean, and for several days afterward

You would, apropos of nothing, angrily blurt out

How stupid, stupid, stupid that movie was,

And how you hoped they would cancel movie day from now on.


iii.Love In The Back Of The Balcony Of The Old Rialto, Or At Least A Few Blowjobs.


I suppose, in retrospect, it would have been a bit too creepy

If we had just remained friends all those years—like I used

To say to you at the time, it’s not my fault you ended up with tits.

There wasn’t much chance for us to spend any “quality time” together,

And when I say quality time, I mean that there was no good place

For us to fuck like rabbits (and if I had the Magic 8-Ball

Of retrospect back then, I would have quit the basketball team

So my afternoons would have been free to get into your

Hanes for Her, so we could have made babies

And I could have got a job at the mill, affording us the resources

To live happily hand-to-mouth ever after), but at least

The old Rialto Theatre was able to carry on in its death throes

Until the summer after our junior year, which allowed us the opportunity

To slide into the back row of the balcony

(Although, given the old movie house’s attendance on most nights,

I could have screwed you in the middle of the front row

Without anyone noticing), where you would, unbidden,

Slip below the seat, undo my pants and take me in your mouth

Smoothly, silently, with a precision and nonchalance

That I found borderline disturbing, and one Friday evening

I happened to venture the opinion that I probably loved you.

You paused in labors long enough to bob up to the surface.

Please.  You have no fucking clue what you’re saying,

With that you returned below the row of torn, unevenly padded seating

And got back to the business at hand.


iv. And Thence To The St. Lawrence, And Beyond.


It could not, of course, have lasted; you were heading off

To Cornell in the fall, and I was headed for

A state school to be determined, as no Ivy League school

Would have me even if I took the entire Board of Trustees hostage.

We sort of stayed in touch for a couple of months,

But come second semester I only had one, cryptic note from you.

Hey, schmuck.  If you happen to catch wind as to the answer

To Pilate’s question, you clue me in, OK?   Two weeks later,

You were dead, having leapt off a bridge

Into one of the scenic gorges that were the pride and joy

Of the town’s Chamber of Commerce.  Prolly drunk,

I heard the sheriff’s boys up there had said

(Being a clear case of a jumper, there was no reason for a post-mortem),

Though I knew you’d never so much as sipped an Iron City

In your entire life, and, understandably, there’d been

No calling hours, no graveside services.

A couple of years later—I’d successfully avoided her

Until then—I ran into your mom.  After some of

The requisite pleasantries, the conversation wandered off

Into the dark corners where young dead girls lived.

They’d found a note, but it hadn’t offered much

In the way of explanation—just the request

That she be cremated, and the remains taken to Cape Vincent

(Way the hell Upstate in New York, as far as her mom knew

She’d never even seen the place), and scattered

On Lake Ontario (the note insisted it be done by boat),

She said to make sure to get out in the lake a good mile

Or so, so there wouldn’t be a chance of her ashes

Floating back to shore.


7 thoughts on “The Surfboard Bride

  1. This poem in a light-hearted manner advocates life by making an example of the ludicrous and irrational death of the troubled woman. To be alive is better than to be dead. To kill oneself is not a way to achieve that desired highness, that grand love and it would definitely not bring an answer to that mysterious question called life. Maybe the truth is simple after all and maybe there aren’t any grand explanations. What do we know anyway? What have we seen anyhow? It was fun following the story of the madman and his acquaintanceship with this interesting female as the years take them to the shores of adulthood. This is a successful and highly entertaining beautiful piece of writing.

  2. Hands down, the best I have read of many extraordinarily fine pieces from you, wkk, and then too, one of the best things I’ve read ever.

    You never missed a word, emotion or thread in the telling of this story, which rings with unsentimental honesty and the authenticity of ordinary tragedy.

    I’m gutted.

  3. Jesus…this is Forest Gump meets Ode to Billy Joe……excruciatingly simple in its nature and alluring in its quality. You do real very well. Yeah….loved it.

  4. The scope of this piece is amazing and encompasses a rather grim attitude to whole boy meets girl, boy fools around with girl, boy and girl grow apart. The heart of this thing beats slowly, sadly, but loud and clear. The last half of the last stanza are so telling as to the girls life, which previously was only mirrored by the narrators detailing. Poor thing never really got to touch the shore in any regard, always wanting to drift and ebb and always land locked. Well done! and viva la

  5. these is some fantastic writings, where each chapter stands alone or works along. Styles differ too, voice, perspective, narration. Great job. Thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks

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