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American Life in Poetry: Column 210

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

My father was the manager of a store in which chairs were strategically placed for those dutiful souls waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for shoppers. Such patience is the most exhausting work there is, or so it seems at the time. This poem by Joseph O. Legaspi perfectly captures one of those scenes.

At the Bridal Shop

The gowns and dresses hang
like fleece in their glaring
whiteness, sheepskin-softness,
the ruffled matrimonial love in which the brides-
in-waiting dance around, expectantly,
hummingbirds to tulips. I was dragged here:
David's Bridal, off the concrete-gray arterial
highways of a naval town. I sink into the flush
bachelors' couch, along with other men sprinkled
throughout the shop, as my friend and her female compatriots parade
taffeta dresses in monstrous shades of pastels—persimmons,
lilacs, periwinkles—the colors of weddings and religious
holidays. Trains drag on the floor, sleeves drape
like limp, pressed sheets of candied fruits,
ribbons fluttering like pale leaves. I watch
families gathered together: the women, like worshippers,
circling around the smiling brides-to-be, as if they were
the anointed ones. The men, in turn, submerge
deeper into couches, into sleep, while the haloed,
veiled women cannot contain their joy,
they flash their winning smiles, and they are beautiful.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2007 by Joseph O. Legaspi, whose most recent book of poems is "Imago," Cavankerry Press, 2007. Poem reprinted from "Crab Orchard Review," Vol. 12, no. 2, 2007, by permission of Joseph O. Legaspi. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.