Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Here Is A Strange and Bitter Crop

We went south this weekend, to a place where every other piece of luggage on the baggage carousal was a set of clubs. We were deep in Bush/Cheney territory, where their devotees plant signs in prickly crab grassed lawns and where those who desire it can fulfill what surely must be the ultimate in mammary indulgence by flying in for the weekend on Hooters Air.

The wedding we attended on Saturday took place on an old plantation and the actual ceremony was perhaps the most idyllic I’ve ever witnessed. It was held outdoors on a well- groomed lawn dotted with trees heavy with Spanish moss and a backdrop of tall grasses that rolled and sighed under the breath of a late afternoon breeze. And, shit, the sun was setting all fat and mellow and dappled by leaves and moss and casting everything in an amber hue like some visual representation of a sigh.

And I like that we all stood when the bride made her entrance. This is right. I can do without everything else- the obligatory biblical readings, the hosannas to Sky Gods, the holy ass sanctity of the marriage bond (which increasingly sounds like “Gays need not apply”) and the bowing of reverent heads. Oh, no. Fuck all that. When the bride walks in and we stand and the breeze is blowing in just such a way that the moment feels consummate of everything that wants to be harnessed and unleashed- that’s what I like.

The groom endeared himself to me by waxing about the wedding mix Cathy and I made and gave out to everybody who attended our own wedding. He tells us he listened to it on the drive down to his wedding just the other day. He turns to the person with us and says, “Now a lot of people getting married make these mixes and to tell you the truth, more often then not they fucking suck. But not this one. It’s fucking great!” And I want to hug him but I don’t. He does however shake my hand numerous times.

We wonder, Cathy and I as we walk the plantation grounds after dinner, how to reconcile the beauty of this place with its awful legacy. What magnitudes of suffering took place here? It’s an onerous anxiety, a low-grade hindrance to fully giving ourselves over to the beauty of the candles that hang from the trees and the sliver sickle of moon that rises and demands awe. I say something stupid about how I take solace in the grizzled bowing of the trees and their hermit-like beards of moss and how their beauty has nothing to do with this legacy. But Cathy wonders if they weren’t planted and kept up by those in bondage, which they probably were. Scratch the surface and there’s dreadfulness here.

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