Wedded Bliss


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Is there a particular poem or collection of poetry you’d recommend for 2 bookish types, carefree in spirit but both simple and practical in their daily lives, who are getting married? I am also contributing to a Crate and Barrel gift card for them but I think marriage demands something a little more meaningful than a salad bowl with matching spoons. Any recommendations?
— F


There are many poems on the theme of marriage (take a look at the anthology Wedding Readings, edited by Eleanor Munro) but I’ve been trying to find a poetry book for you that “two bookish types” probably haven’t read. I think I found one that’s appropriate:  Stephen Dunn’s Everything Else in the World. The poems contained therein reflect the wisdom that is gained through age, but one poem in particular leads me to recommend this book to you:

“The Kiss”

She pressed her lips to mind.
—a typo

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.

There’s something so special about reading a book of poetry from cover to cover — you are led on a journey. The experience might be similar to listening to an album rather than a mixed compilation; both are uniquely enjoyable yet you get an added appreciation when you read poems in an artist’s chosen line-up, when you see what themes overlap or repel. I had a fabulous time reading this book. Anyhow, I think a poetry book would be a lovely complement to a salad bowl and matching spoons. Both will come in handy, especially if the bride and groom plan to have children: The salad bowl and spoons make a nice impromptu drum set, and the poetry book will provide a “momentary stay against confusion,” which, I assure you, they will need every day. • 19 May 2011