Alabama – 5 (of 10)

(Part 5)

Past the river, out near Butler,
My best friend was getting married.
He said, “turn by the power lines,”
But we got lost out somewhere out in a field.

By the time we got there,
People were mostly gathered for
The rehearsal: the bride
And her four sisters,
(Including her twin, and
Another set of twins)
Her mother and her father,
My friend’s parents, and
A few others I’d yet to meet.

Her family obviously had money: turns out
They had owned the paper mill near town.
The rehearsal dinner was at fish camp,
Where the food was very, very good,
Some kind of local hot sauce,
And alcohol flowing everywhere and freely.

As best man, I had stuff to do:
But I spent part of that night at the camp
And the next day at the family house (where the wedding was)
Getting the history of her family from
Her sister, who as matron of honor,
Had stuff to do as well, but took some stolen minutes
To tell me about her family.

“We’ve been here for years, and years,
Our family goes back ages, although,
We mostly were just fishermen, but one
[Her great-grandfather, I believe]
Became a lawyer, mayor, and a judge,
Then he and a brother bought land,
Which ended up being the paper mill
Where the family money really came from.
Dad sold it a few years ago, the money was
Way too good for him to pass up. Now,
He restores classic cars,
And drives an Alvis TD 21 –
It’s just out there.”

(It took my breath away)

I also met the husbands, it turned out
The other sisters all were married, and
A joyful, motley group of guys they were.
One a fireman, he lived in town, the only one who did.
Another was a French professor,
I never got what college he was at.
A third worked in a government office
Over in Montgomery; he seemed
The funniest and quietest of the bunch.
And the husband of the twin
Owned a clothing store up in Decatur.
I found it interesting to see
That none of the husbands were from rich families,
Apparently the sisters used other criteria in
Selecting; at any rate, had we not come here,
I never would have known the family had money,
For they were down-to-earth, and unassuming.

The wedding was very beautiful, and we gave our toasts
At the party after, in the prescribed manner,
About the happiness we saw, or foresaw,
In the newlyweds.

I later walked out of the party, tipsy,
Looking at the moon in a dark blue sky,
And wondered about happiness prophecies:
If making them is any way related to them coming true.
But decided, even if not,
That a happy day
Is a happy day
And we should take them where we find them.

Postscript: My then-wife and I (obliquely referred to above as “we”) got separated, and then divorced, two years after this wedding; my friend and his wife were married for ten years after that, until a gambling addiction caused her to bankrupt the two of them and led to their divorce. He recently got engaged, to a woman down in Florida, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

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