Torture Wears a White Dress

“Should anyone here present
know of any reason that this couple
should not be joined in holy matrimony,
speak now or forever hold your peace.”

I do.
Sitting in the second to last pew on the right,
with head down, eyes closed, breathing measured.
Each word is a blow to my stomach, a weight on my chest,
a chain–wrapped around my torso, dragging me to the depths of my sorrow.
I don’t know why I showed up, but it felt wrong not to.

You look beautiful up there in your dress and shimmering veil,
standing there and looking at him with your soft smile, your gentle eyes–
so innocent and untouched by the world around you.
I envy how well you fake it,
and desperately wish I could do the same.
I shouldn’t have shown up, I don’t belong.

I like to blame him whenever I think about us,
That he was what split us apart.
But deep down we both know that wasn’t the case.
And as I see you now, I still dream of an alternate reality
where we were ok and things worked out wonderfully.
I should leave now, before the ceremony ends.

I can see you exchanging your vows, each syllable tumbling from your lips–
but for some reason the words aren’t registering with me.
Instead I hear your chiming laughter,
our late night conversations over warm cups of coffee.
Warm–but not too hot, because that’s how you liked it.
I’m just hurting myself now.

You may kiss the bride!
I wish I could.
I wish I could stand up and push through my row to the center aisle,
charge down it with the desperation of a broken man and
sweep your fragile body into my loving embrace just one last time.
Sitting in the second to last pew on the right, I slowly rise.

It’s time to move on now, as I watch him lift the veil and caress her cheek.
As I walk, shards of my broken heart fall loudly to the hardwood floor,
tears once streaming down my face now drop like bombs on the polished pew.
But in the applause of all those gathered in celebration of matrimony,
I am the only one who hears them.
The old oak doors of the church close quietly behind me as I slip outside.

I never should have come,
sooner should I have left.
I never would’ve guessed,
that torture wears a white dress.


* * “Wedding” by LaDanseuse via Deviant art.


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