A Country Wedding

Melissa Matthewson

We walked our rural road on a Saturday, the pavement saturated with the day’s rain and littered with leaves shuffled from the trees at odds with the hardy west wind. Our daughter wore a brown dress speckled with white shapes like triangles, brown tights to match and pink shoes. She was pretty with tiny braids wrapped on top of her head, the rest of her auburn curls falling to the straight line above her hips. Our son held my hand, skipped along with his nice clothes and missing teeth lost now to the spaces in his grin like open doorways. As we walked, you told me of your dream: about a woman who took you to dinner, a woman not your wife, a woman not me. Your father disapproved of this handing you cigarettes and said, “Smoke them or don’t,” and you laughed in the re-telling while we walked under the heavy sky with the sun splintering the day with so much clear light, strips of ribbon we could walk through on our way to the next farm over for a country wedding at the tip of autumn.

Funny how our dreams become laughter or story to fill our talk, our time together.

There were children everywhere in the wet grass when we arrived, and too, a pig roasting in a box, an arbor made of madrone branches, a band coiling wires. We said hello to our neighbors and made acquaintance with the new. I eyed a young man in a floppy hat looking like something straight out of a hay pile. He asked me to dance later when you disappeared to the pie or trees where our son chased other boys down by the black creek. I can’t lie—dancing with another man under the moon was dangerous and enchanting, so true in its simple shape of attraction, of desire, of want.

The officiant told a story. He said, “This story might be true, but it might not. I’m not concerned with the facts.” He told of the Grand Canyon, the layers of rock compared to a marriage over time—the soft new love of the rudimentary bands to the deeper depths of rock where intimacy lives. I held your hand while the bride smiled in her sheen and silk dress of blue with an appliqué of branches and tree swirling around the hem and up through the bodice, a broach of diamonds at her split of breasts and flowers in her hair, of course. The groom wore pants of buckskin sewed at night in his cabin, his muscle and bone sliding into the leather so effortlessly like he was born into them. He was barefoot in the clover.

I drank too much hard cider brewed by the apple farmers up the road while the band played music that carried me away under the silver clouds shifting and mixing in the aftermath of the earlier storm. The string lights overhead cast a glow about the place that made every shadow count, illuminating the cheeks of all the people who sipped and talked and celebrated. The light made us all beautiful.

Later, we swayed back down our road way too late with that harvest moon peeking through the clouds and our children thought I was silly because I chattered on about the essay I was writing, a rejoinder to a rejoinder, and how we were to make an experiment with eggs in the morning. I rambled all this while I pushed them in the stroller, heavy with umbrellas, sweaters and pouches of lavender, party favors we could tuck under our pillows when we arrived home. They didn’t understand my slur and stream of words and said, “Mamaaaaa,” all drawn out and laughing. I wished for them to remember this laughing, this joy.

That’s when the clouds parted and our field came into view, bare now after having been mowed that morning, and our farm looked as if it were a bowl, the beauty difficult to describe even, but I felt it pulling us toward it, this container of our life, and of many things, like love and work and some day, death. I saw the field washed in moon glow, fine and bright and everything we keep was revealed to me as I tipped over sideways from the cider, the music, the marrying.

I think, I’m writing this now so I’ll remember what I feel about this place that holds so much for us. So I’ll remember it wasn’t just a dream we laughed about once when we were young and buoyant and drunk on mountain cider. I think, I’m writing this for you. So you’ll know.