Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 17 • Spring 2006 • Poetry

Four-Part Epithalamion

D. Antwan Stewart

Dear brother, here I am.
Outside. Evening has descended
upon this pocket of light
I crouch in --
so tainted
compared to the brilliance
that surrounds you: women
glittering in beaded dresses, waiters
with champagne flutes tinkling
at their rims, orbiting
around you. Mouths gleam,
open-wide, toothy
grins caught in camera
light flashes. And brightest
of them all are the men
with tie clips -- gold and silver -- flickering
like heat lightning of night-sects
buzzing among the brambles,
in their forests of ivy and kudzu


In moments there will be a toast.
Your new wife will join you
at your side; confetti will be thrown,
and this will be rapture,
just as, years from now,
you will cherish your children --
whose laughter will fill the house
when their mother, your wife, scoops them
into her arms and presses them
to her heart as though such innocence
can be contained in a simple moment
of delight. Or more like the summers
when you all will visit the quarry,
wade knee-deep in the cool licks,
and afterward sun yourselves
on the bank, listening
to the water ebb, and this sound
will become a moment that will burst
inside each of you
each time rain sops the earth,
becomes drizzle, and you relish
the pungent smell the earth gives up
after a hard rain.


I am here, dear brother,
still. A moth's papier mâché wings
trapped between the slats
of the blinds, nothing but a faceless
specter ruined the way a heart is
ruined when mother weeps
into her handkerchief, refusing to tremble
even a smile, or father knocking back vodka
one after the other, his crossed leg
shaking so hard it would crack
at the joint when either of them sights
two men circled by friends, toasting
their nuptials.


Dear brother, I was there
to endure the silence created
when mother and father left
defeated, mother retreated into the wings
of her body, father unable to hold
his head up high in the custom
he was taught as a boy --
and that was the memory that lasted,
though yours, I'm sure will be much
more celebrated: a roomful haloing you,
your bride, with praise,
and the picture frames already
purchased and positioned on the mantels
in the houses of your beloveds, my own
frames lying face down,
the stand lifted from the back
like the marker of a grave.

D. Antwan Stewart is author of a chapbook, "The Terribly Beautiful." Other poems appear or are forthcoming in Bloom, can we have our ball back?, Poet Lore, Seattle Review, Pebble Lake Review, New Millennium Writings, and others. He is a James A. Michener Fellow in poetry at the Michener Center for Writers and serves as poetry editor for Bat City Review.

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