Literature 10-20-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Sharon Chmielarz

"A Widow's Tale, As Ancient As Can Be" by Sharon Chmielarz was selected as this week's What Light winning poem by Patricia Kirkpatrick. ALSO: We're in the midst of a new call for poems (Deadline: October 31)


A Widow’s Tale, As Ancient As Can Be

On his wedding morning he asked himself
what he was doing? –But he drove on,
toward the church, to a part of his fate.

I hated my hair that morning.
I should never have had it done.
Except for one photo where I smile,
I was a stern-looking bride, her hair
covered with a ridiculous hat, a stove
pipe cocked on a rim. In the bedroom,
my friend stood with me before the mirror.
She was so slim! I was so fat.

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
has a different meaning for a courtesan
than for a priest.

Aren’t lies part of a happy occasion?
If everything about love is a lie, does it matter?
Aren’t the contents interesting? Love becomes
a repository for the alone one later to open.

And the light fell so wonderfully
shadowy over the table set by the lake.
And the couple were coaxed by friends,
as the afternoon wore on, to eat their cake.
June was in its quiet mode, young and confident.

When the pastor called out my new name,
I looked to my mother-in-law to reply.
Everyone laughed then, including me,
who felt a curious pang under her chest.


Sharon Chmielarz has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series and in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007 nominated for a Pushcart. Her collections include The Rhubarb King, The Other Mozart, But I Won’t Go Out in a Boat, Different Arrangements, and a chapbook, Stranger in Her House. Her poems have a translated into French and Polish, and appear in two MN 2007 anthologies.