Marriage and Inheritance #3

Fall is a familiar American pomp
of wines and reds and browns.
And just before that,
Summer's greens become gold.
Parched grass for some,
but for some lucky in love again
it's the brief planning time for a new season.

This November,
a closet of reminders:
a clock measures two feet in gaudy height,
painted thin white and flaking streaks of dull yellow,
a 12-piece ivory Waterford set
remains unused in taped boxes,
two Tiffany lamps lie broken and flat
wrapped in newspaper,
even stacks of congratulatory cards gather dust,
empty of the checks they once held--
A gathering of happy promises
for a marriage which lasted 12 years.

When I was nine,
I told the woman who helped my mother with the cooking and cleaning
that it was okay to burn the box in the end room
where my mother's wedding dress lay in careful tissue.
The fire in our backyard that day was spectacular with satin and guipure.
She and I sat for hours
chores undone
and watched it touch a Caribbean sky
and then slowly
come down again.

This November
my wedding dress stands stiff in a closet
in my parents' house in New Jersey.
It is off-white, threaded with gold in places,
a precise a-line,
pearls stitched at equal distance from each other,
its still train, unpinned,
in a closet in my parents' house
where they just celebrated 47 years of marriage.


Charmaine Valere is a Guyanese-American writer whose non-fiction writing has been published in The Caribbean Review of Books, Caribbean Beat Magazine, and Sx Salon Journal. She has taught writing and literature courses at several colleges in New Jersey, and she maintains a blog, Signifyinguyana, where she writes on Caribbean literature, with a special focus on the works of Caribbean women writers.

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