We’ve been lucky that throughout the wedding planning process, Andrew and I have agreed on all of the big things (destination location, small guest list, Mexican buffet), and most of the little things too. However, we’ve reached an impasse on what is arguably the most important part — the wedding ceremony itself. We have the pleasure, but also the pain, of writing it ourselves.
We’re on the same page about the vows and the opening and closing parts. But we’re in disagreement on the readings. One of us, and I won’t say which one, wants to have a poem read that is a little, um, s-e-x-u-a-l. The other one of us, worried about blushing in front of her new mother-in-law (oops, did I just give away who was who there?), does not think this particular reading is appropriate. I have other reasons for not wanting it, but this is the juiciest one.
(Andrew’s word-for-word lawyerly argument: “It’s one of my favorite poems and probably the most moving love poem I have ever read so I feel it’s eminently appropriate to express the passion I have for the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with. While it is a little racy, it’s our wedding and I am okay with that. Moreover, I think it will fit well with the flow of our ceremony and complement our other reading, which is rather subtle.)
Being democratic as we are, we agreed to put it up to the test of the blog! Tell me, dear readers, and BE HONEST (I will still be your friend if you vote against me, but my mother-in-law will not): Should the following poem be read at our wedding?
THE CINNAMON PEELER by Michael Ondaatje
If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
and leave the yellow bark dust
on your pillow.
Your breasts and shoulders would reek
you could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you. The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.
Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor to your hair
or the crease
that cuts your back. This ankle.
You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler’s wife.
I could hardly glance at you
never touch you
— your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.
I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers…
When we swam once
I touched you in water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.
You climbed the bank and said
this is how you touch other women
the grasscutter’s wife, the lime burner’s daughter.
And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume.
what good is it
to be the lime burner’s daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler’s wife. Smell me.