The Episcopal Priest at Abby and Francisco’s Wedding

by Lynne Viti

The groom was Spanish, the bride was not.
You presided at the wedding, suitably formal,
adhering to the Book of Common Prayer.
Then came the reception, a ballroom
full of round tables draped with ivory cloths,
champagne glasses that would be filled, refilled.

The guests from Spain danced atop the tables.
How noisy they were, how their feet pounded the tabletops,
they cried out and sang, but this was nothing compared

to watching you do the Twist, you’d shed your Roman collar,
your white shirt was open at the throat,
you were the high school kid we never knew you as, 
the party lover with a contemplative side.

When you went down on the mountain trail in Nepal, 
having defied doctor’s orders and convention 
as you always did—
When your heart, full and ever fuller, surged and stopped,
When your companions hauled your body to the crematory
When they left your ashes and bones on the Annapurna trail—
When your flame went out—

You were always on to the next journey,
The Camino de Santiago, the Ruta de Pelegrino—
You were fearless, some thought foolish, but I remember
the day we talked of my father’s impending death, when you said
It’s where we’re all headed, and a chill ran through me.

Pilgrim, seeker—tell me now,
What am I to do with your five paintings
Stuffed in a cardboard packing box in my attic, 
waiting for the meetup you promised
before everything tumbled to an end?

Lynne Viti is a lecturer emerita in the Writing Program at Wellesley College. She is the author of Dancing at Lake Montebello: Poems (Apprentice House Press 2020), two poetry chapbooks, Baltimore Girls (2017) and The Glamorganshire Bible (2018) and a short fiction collection, Going Too Fast (2020). Her poetry, nonfiction and fiction has appeared in over 150 journals, newspapers and anthologies, including The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television, The Baltimore SunWelcome to the Neighborhood, You Can Hear the Ocean, Bad Hombres & Nasty Women, Baltimore Anthology, and Callinectes Sapidus. She has been awarded recognition in the WOMR/Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Contest, and the Glimmer Train Short Fiction Contest, and has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and the Mass Book Award. Viti teaches writing and literature classes to retirees, and leads poetry workshops at libraries and community centers in the Boston area.

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