SAPPHO ON THE EDGE OF THE BAYOU

BY ANNA JOURNEY

Coughed up the jazz band’s brass throats,
weddings are a hollow music
pressed thickly around curls
of the wrought iron gate,
the cast solid magnolia. There is rust
coppering down the fine
edges of everything here
in this violet light—the white pickup’s
eaten paint, rose ash of cinderblocks,
the one cool sting
of dill on my palm. I wave
goodbye to you as the stone
face of the swamp refuses
your far-off reflection. It’s better
this way. As you leave under
that snow of thrown rice, your veil
is the thinnest fishing net. Gongyla, arm
and arm with a man whose vow
grows heavier midair—it hangs
there like a darkening
smile, sweat on the edges
of your gown. Goodbye, my rose—
This is the song I write
for your wedding, love, as pyramids
rise and weather: when willows
strangle the water pipes, a kiss
of cornmeal on your brow.
Now, I wipe a stone bird’s wings, now
the washboards miss a beat. With this
song I am snapped
loose like the sheep-gut
strings of a lyre.