dearly beloved.

“The Wedding in the Courthouse” by Kathleen Norris

I don’t like weddings
When you live here
Long enough
All the spindly legged girls
Grow up like weeds
To be mowed down: matrons
At twenty-five, all edges taken off.
When the music starts
They’re led down the aisle
In their white dresses
And we celebrate sentiment
And money.

There’s only one wedding
I’d go to again
I happened to be on an errand
At the county courthouse
And Lucille came running:
“Will you be a witness?
We need two,
And the girls can’t leave their desks.”

They’d shown up
That morning, no family or friends.
Not kids: he looked about thirty
And she just a little younger.
They couldn’t stop smiling.
She might have been pregnant,
But you couldn’t tell.
It might have been the denim jumper
She was wearing.

I can picture Lucille
Chain-smoking: surprised
And pleased
To interrupt routine.
And the Deputy Sheriff,
A young man, blushing,
Loaded gun in his holster,
Arms hanging loose:
He looked at his shoes.
But it’s the words
I remember most. It was as if
I was hearing them for the first time.
Lucille put out a cigarette
And began: “Dearly beloved,”
And we were.

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