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New York Wedding

by Zettel 

Posted: 31 December 2009
Word Count: 92
Summary: My daughter got married in Central Park on 23rd December.

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New York Wedding

Ten perfect days
brilliant sunshine
New York glittering
in December cold
as dawn’s hope
etches a patina of gold
on giant barkless trees

Who will die today
what new joy be born
my once tiny fragment
of fragile life
is woman now it seems
and leads me
through the magic city
of my imaginary dreams

She is leader now
and should mother be
as her circle turns
and winds away from me
I will follow now
until the coming snow
hides her footsteps
that I will never see

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Comments by other Members

FelixBenson at 12:30 on 01 January 2010  Report this post
A measured rhythmic piece - capturing that mix of emotions - happiness and slight melancholy. I like the way a wintery New York sets (and frames) the scene - and the final image of the snow covering yor daughters tracks is very strong.

Zettel at 22:37 on 01 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks Felix


James Graham at 15:56 on 02 January 2010  Report this post
It’s good to have a new poem from you. On such a special occasion it would be hard not to put pen to paper. I think what strikes me most forcefully is the true ‘philosophical’ tone of this poem, especially in the lines

She is leader now
and should mother be
as her circle turns
and winds away from me

- lines which contain a touch of sadness perhaps, confirmed by your image of footprints covered in fresh snow, but the feeling that comes over to me is less of sadness than of affirmation. Their circles, the trajectories of their lives, do indeed turn away from us, but we must learn to welcome this. Two words stand out and complement each other - ‘leads’ and ‘follow’. When the child has become an adult, we can begin a new role - that of follower, following wherever their youth and energy lead us, letting them show us the ‘magic city’.

I like the simplicity and directness of both the second and third stanzas. I’m left feeling though that the first stanza could be more pictorial, more of a visual evocation of NY through concrete observation. (The ‘barkless trees’ are one example.)

In the line ‘Who will die today’, do you mean ‘How can we imagine anyone dying on such a life-affirming day?’ - or am I reading too much into it?

And I’m sure ‘footsteps’ should be ‘footprints’.


Zettel at 01:11 on 03 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks James

To explain intention is not to claim achievement.

The first stanza is just to try to express a personal sense of unique time and place. I tried to capture more of New York in my earlier poem Memorial day New York.

Here as you say the poem was to express the complex, conflicting emotions of a father that you (and Felix) have to accurately identified.

I used 'footsteps' instead of footprints to convey a sense of the future steps in my daughter's life that I will never see - the steps, not just the signs of the steps that 'footprints' conveys. It probably doesn't quite work but in a way for me it at least tries to say more than 'footprints'.

It is gratifying though that the emotional and philosophical essence of the poem communicates itself. I write poems quite quickly and can only work on them for a while before I make them worse and more self-consciously 'poetic'. Here the process was as you saw, as much cathartic as poetic in motivation.

As to the wedding: I was determined not to 'give my daughter away' as our culture puts it, as for me this reinforces the sense of 'ownership' of children in general and women in particular that our traditional wedding service I think, wrongly conveys. However after a rather beautiful, spiritually effective but totally non-demoninational exchange of vows I then offered a Native American (Apache) wedding prayer which seemed appropriate both for its sentiment and the place. I've shown this below in case of interest. I love its simplicity. I would recommend this way of contributing to one's daughter's marriage - it seemed right to us both.

As to our children - I agree with you: at the reception I said "it is our childrens' task to surpass us: and ours to love them for it."

Thanks as ever for the comments.


Apache Wedding Prayer

Now you will feel no rain
For you each will be shelter
To the other

Now you will feel no cold
For you will be warmth
To the other

Now there is no more loneliness
For each of you will be companion
To the other

Now you are two bodies
But there is one life
Before you

Go now to your dwelling place
To enter in to the days
Of your togetherness
And may your days be good
And long upon the earth

James Graham at 20:41 on 03 January 2010  Report this post
Z, how right you are about 'giving away' - it's only a degree or two less offensive than selling one's daughter for five camels. I didn't know the Apache Wedding Prayer, but I've printed it out and will keep it. I'd exchange it for all the religious wedding words I've ever heard, whether Catholic, Anglican or Presbyterian - all of which I've sat through at one time or another. It's very fine - wholly human and full of tenderness.


Zettel at 00:09 on 04 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks James

It is special isn't it?


Elsie at 00:17 on 04 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Zettel
Lovely, and the wedding prayer, too.

joanie at 21:05 on 04 January 2010  Report this post
Just beautiful, Zettel.

Zettel at 23:42 on 04 January 2010  Report this post
Thanks Elsie and Joanie - glad you liked it.


SarahT at 22:30 on 11 January 2010  Report this post
Hi Zettel,

I found this poem quite sad at first and wondered if it was too sad to accurately capture the emotion of a wedding but then I re-read it and there are strong images in between the sad bits and it read much more hopefully second time round. Yes, it is about handing over to the next generation but you have recognised the strength of your daughter and your pride comes through and, for the time being, you are in the magic city of imaginary dreams, glittering implacably. So, overall, I see it not so much sad as thoughtful. Some lovely images that I am sure I will return to.


Zettel at 10:18 on 12 January 2010  Report this post

I am pleased that the poem resonated for you. Especially as on reflection you felt its true emotion. All beauty I think has a tinge of sadness: at our mortality and the transience of things - an idea I have explored several times in other poems.

I did not intentionally put any regret or resignation, or worst of all, any wistfulness in this, though it is perhaps there unbidden. I wanted to say not just that this is how it is - but that this is how it must be. And that that is good.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment.


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