A death refracted – Part 5.5
The wedding ceremony in the UK is coming to an end.
There is silence. There is silence outside the silence. There is silence within the silence, an echo of a silence from a long way away.
Derry and Desh sit waiting.
The priest flicks the fly swat across the now scarf covered pages of the book. He moves the hands of the clock forward. Motions to Bonny and she looks across at Peter; it’s time for him to say a few words.
Peter stands, shakes his legs to get the blood flowing again; he’s not used to sitting on the floor for so long and his calves feel heavy, his feet numb. He walks across to the mike and faces the gathering. The paper, given to him by Bonny the night before, the one with the poems, is folded in his coat pocket. He’s practised, the cadence of the words and sentences foreign, but he thinks he’s got the rhythm, and he looks up, the paper, straightened, in front of him, scanning, and begins; I have two poems I want to read for you both, Derry, Desh. The first one is:
Just for you
Do you remember the big oak tree,
Its branches silver in the moon
That tree where I saw you first?
No? Neither do I
There was no tree, only you.
Do you remember the green sound of the river,
The night boats shouting one to the other,
And you shadowed high on the bank?
No? There was no river,
No boats, just silence, just you.
Do you remember the first dream we shared,
Night’s weaving voice covering
From the world’s stare and the two of us
Discovering love? No? That’s true,
I remember only you, just you.
Who chased who, me or you?
Who was the first to say I do?
I do not know, I remember only you.
And now the games we played are over;
The time has come for me to tell you –
I have been waiting just for you.
He stops, turns the paper over. And the next one.
Time to share
Flying you and I moved, weaving spells
Daily, teasing one the other, bird song
Aching from within the friendly throng
We sheltered in, reaching out to tell
Each other of the love budding,
(Not yet mature, knowing of its self –
Just a simple voice saying, ‘Maybe,
Maybe this is the one for me’ –)
Opening, slowly rising, strengthening
Day by day, to move us closer,
Separate wheels rolling, rhythms
Growing one into the other.
We moved weaving spells, teasing
Concentrated glances, gathering
Him and her into the web,
Hearts moving with each moment
Caught, glittering with desire
To build, cap the hope, that final dream
We, here, now stand before:
Leaves once green have passed brown and gold,
We have grown, but the memories hold
And now we can say our seasons,
Stitched into this scarlet wedding dress,
Have come together, curled and furled,
And now begins the time to share.
He folds the paper and puts it away in his inner coat pocket, stands not knowing what he should do. He looks at his wife, looks at Bonny then looks down at his feet, the big right toe peeping out from a hole in his sock.
There is silence, broken only by the silence of people holding their breath, holding the beat of their hearts, fearful of breaking the silence, and the silence reinforces the silence, and people stop blinking because they think like the wings of a hummingbird the sound will rise humming to shatter their eardrums, rendering them deaf, unable to hear the comforting silence of the silence anymore.
Mummy, why did Uncle Peter say “him and her”? There’s no him. They’re both hers. Jessie’s whisper is louder than the silence, is a signal for people to breathe, undam the valves of their hearts, to sigh at the beauty of the words so poorly recited, yet, their faces say, still beautiful, heartfelt, because that is what they want to believe, those unmarried looking forward to having delivered at their own weddings, for which the designs of the invitations have already begun to be pencilled, and those married wishing they had been delivered at their special day.
Shit! Has the priest heard? Bonny glances at the priest, doesn’t linger, notices that he is studying the groom.
Today I am a Hymn, Desh getting to her feet declares. From today onwards I will always be a hymn to love. I will be a prince to my Cinderella, this dainty – and she takes out a glass slipper from beneath her coat setting off a fit of giggling with Jessie – a reminder of the woman who took my heart and made it soar.
Derry, I love you.
Derry sits, eyes closed.
She cannot respond with an “I love you.” She loves. She does. But the colour of her love is different to that of Desh’s. Her love is not just for the one. Which is what Desh desires and believes. It is for “them”. She loves “them”, and she cannot tell that to Desh, and she cannot utter the words “I love you” as that is not strictly true, and she does not want to lie. Instead, she prefers to stay silent, let that silence respond with the reflected “I love you” that Desh wishes to hear. And the silence does exactly that, Desh whispering, Until death.
Derry sits, eyes closed, face serene.