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Friday, November 14, 2008


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

The silverware’s back in the drawer
The dishes are all put away
The house has been swept clean
and the broom’s in the closet
The garbage can is stuffed
The tablecloths and napkins
are hanging on the clothesline
in the back yard
where the wedding took place
The newlyweds are traveling south
on Highway 1
The relatives from far away
are boarding airplanes
and the friends from nearby
are headed back to work

The bride was beautiful
and the groom was handsome
and as they waited to say their vows
they trembled a little
and gazed at each other
with such tenderness and intensity
that they seemed almost overwhelmed
by loving someone so much

The night was warm
The waning moon rose
over the neighbor’s house
The fig tree was strung
with pale orange paper lanterns
Conversations and music mingled
in the dark branches of trees
The toasts were generous, touching, funny

No fighter jets or attack helicopters or drones
strafed and bombed the wedding party
as the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan
and as Israel has done in Gaza
No wedding guest lay decapitated in the ivy
or sprawled in broken glass
on top of a white linen tablecloth
bleeding to death
No government official had to claim
that the caterers were terrorists
No military spokesman was called upon
to feign regret

After midnight
when all the other guests had left
two of us cleaned up a little
collected empty wine bottles
helped the giddy, exhausted pair
load wedding gifts
into the back of their car
We used a bar of soap
to write Just Married on the rear window
and as the young couple left
we showered them with rose petals
and watched them drive away
down the quiet street
to their new life

Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.