At My Younger Cousin's Wedding

by Ken Harnisch

You don’t dance, so

I drummed my fingers

On the tabletop

And my feet keep time

Under the table

As we watched the revelers

Out on the floor


I kept thinking

I am not yet old enough

To sit all night like this:

Some stone in a chair

With his fingers wrapped around a glass


But out of some sense of propriety

I stayed with my older relatives

Conjuring memories we never shared;

Painting tragedies in soft pastels;

Turning sinners into saints


And we traded photographs

And we made plans

And we told tall tales

Until the music stopped

And the alcohol stopped flowing

From the gilt-wrapped waiter’s hand


But as we moved to go, I

Danced a two-step

Across the floor

Someone whistled in appreciation

And a lifetime of tiny regrets

Wrought an old familiar shudder from my soul


Posted on 11/07/2003
Copyright © 2021 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 11/10/03 at 05:46 PM

Haunting fragments of the seemingly countless weddings and stags I've been to over the years. Thanks for that old friend.

Posted by Maureen Glaude on 11/11/03 at 02:34 AM

poignant and real, never miss a chance for those steps. Sitting out isn't even for the elderly

Posted by Kate Demeree on 11/11/03 at 03:38 AM

This really touches the heart... and soul. I hope you always dance....

Posted by Charles E Minshall on 11/11/03 at 04:51 AM

Good poem Ken. Stoned in a chair ay.....Charlie

Posted by Agnes Eva on 11/11/03 at 11:19 PM

very melancholy poem... wrenching last line

Posted by Lauren Singer on 11/13/03 at 06:29 AM

wonderful imagery and sense of reality in this one, ken.

Posted by Melissa Arel on 01/01/04 at 05:50 AM

A sad piece.. yet familiar :) I know you'll have many more dances to share.

Posted by Vivienne Grant on 02/23/12 at 03:24 PM

oh how I empathise ... attending any do with a partner who doesn't dance is sheer torture ~ it's a question I've yet to answer for myself ~ is it worth it? to not dance?

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