126: My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary

126: My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary

My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary
by Aaron Smith

I’m flying home for a party, crying and snotting,
sitting by a guy who’s watching baseball on an iPad⏤

he looks angry the way men are angry.
I imagine my mom before my sister and me,

before the church and pastor and everyone
coming to see her in a simple, new dress.

I see her in a blue convertible, driving
through town buying flowers, getting ready

to marry my father sooner than she’d expected.
He was drafted, and she wanted to be married a little while

in case something happened. She told me that once,
after they’d argued, and he’d threatened to leave

and she threatened to leave and nobody left,
and I wonder if someone should have.

When I first learned the diagnosis⏤the rarest
form of a rare cancer, I worried every day

for my mother. She cooked in schools and got burns
on her arms when we were children, studied at night

to be a teacher’s aide. She dragged us to church
though we hated it, thought it would make us

good people. Her kids moved away and never had kids
because we didn’t want any. Her husband mostly

ignores her, loves her in this way⏤distant and honest.
Right now she’s doing okay, and I only cry

sometimes: when I see old photos, or a mother
being kind to her child at Target.

"My Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary," from THE BOOK OF DANIEL by Aaron Smith. Copyright © 2019 by Aaron Smith. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

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