Question for the Bride

By David Rivard b. 1953 David Rivard
Now that everything seems so persuasive   
you will go on changing      as always   
it has always been the case with you   
whether you knew it or not      ever since   
that morning in the swamp      that Sunday   
a sunless windy morning      when   
right in front of you      a fat hive dropped   
unbidden      out of a blackened tree   
a tupelo      and where it fell      the water   
was shallow      eighteen inches at most   
but in it      one hundred & fifty-six wasps   
drowned      so      no      you are not
finished      your apprenticeship is not yet over   
you have fallen in love      inadvertently      you   
are the bride-to-be      and now      having   
dressed yourself in the gown      for practice   
you must stand before a mirror   
in the upper right-hand corner of   
which      all of a sudden      a courtroom   
will appear      the litigants judge & jury   
suspended there      in midair      a news   
bulletin      the reporter's face reflected   
from a portable television far across   
the room      the sound turned down   
the litigants looking tense      or bored   
the whole crew of them a little   
self-conscious      like characters who have
just recently been conjured      though somewhat   
incompletely      by a staff of studio writers   
in Century City      California
In a field off a Vermont road      later   
this week      you'll listen to a car ticking
as it cools      the sound of the engine   
blending with the cicadas in tall bluegrass   
floating past      as in a dream then   
you will finger the veil & lift
your mother & father long ago set aside   
in a folder for silences & song
you'll waken      almost immediately   
reborn      you will have lifted the veil   
though of course      sooner or later      farther   
down the line      that stranger      the one   
with whom you spend so much time   
in your mind      talking      he will reveal   
he is your brother      and what
will you have to say to him then      when   
as he must      he asks if you had
allowed yourself to lead a happy life   
in spite of the fact your parents
had not      what is it you will tell him   
what answer can you give?

David Rivard, “Question for the Bride” from Bewitched Playground. Copyright © 2000 by David Rivard. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: Bewitched Playground (Graywolf Press, 2000)

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Poet David Rivard b. 1953

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Marriage & Companionship, Life Choices, Living

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  Rivard


David Rivard was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. His collections of poetry include Torque (1988), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Wise Poison (1996), winner of the James Laughlin Award, Bewitched Playground (2000), Sugartown (2005), and Otherwise Elsewhere (2010). He has also been a contributor to such publications as Ploughshares, The New England Review, and Poetry, and is a former editor of The Harvard . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Marriage & Companionship, Life Choices, Living

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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