for Ben and Wendell on their wedding day
October 9, 2011
This man you’ve only met tonight,
who is wearing fake glasses and a black tank top
in a dive bar in Manhattan, has made you laugh
eleven times already. He is teaching you
how to download apps on your new iPhone.
He is opening one and using his fingertip
to scribble his name across the screen
so you will remember it,
and you are allowing your body
to become a song that says,
When it first appears,
you don’t know how to name love, so it is
nine fingers deep into the phone
even though I called yesterday,
it is losing your other numbers
until five months pass, and it is just you
and this man laying in your bed on 25th Street.
Your hand slung across his chest, nearly asleep.
There is a James Bond movie finishing on the TV,
and just before your eyes are meant to close,
his body is an electric current in tight underwear
out of bed and dancing, pirouetting
nearly into the television, an interpretive
spy dance that is not stopping, but blossoming
to the music of the credits, and your body is now
in tears from a profound laughter. It is no longer
just a joke, no longer just a beautiful dance.
It is the truth from a body that only occurs
in a bedroom between lovers that says,
When you are happy, I am alive. Without you,
I am not me. It does not matter that it will take weeks
to name the love that sits inside you
stable as a new house.
He is the arms of each man to hold you
and assure you were beautiful.
He is not just dancing
perfectly around your dresser and curtains
in his underwear, he is doing it
You do not need to know love is a word
which will travel free between you like a flock
of sparrows. That you will deliver yourself to it,
across an Uptown C train, a fire pit in Boston,
the wedding aisle in a library on the west side
of Manhattan. That there are years between this day
and the day you say no other word
can communicate what we both know.
When you say:
Husband—because my life
is my own and I wish to give it to you.
Because I wish to apologize and to forgive,
and to come home to you each night.
Husband, because it was true in a dive bar,
and in a bedroom that we shared, on a street
where I walk around the block
because we’ve just had a fight
and I am coming home to you calm.
I name you my husband to receive you.
True today and tomorrow. My husband
because I have spent my entire life
climbing toward your name.
Ecologist, Teacher, Native Writer
Author, Staff Writer at the New Yorker
Mahogany L. Browne