The Mirror in Which I’ll Be Judged

12 Mar

Watching my brother get married in Golden Gate Park,

I wonder how that question gets popped.  Is it like a bottle

of expensive champagne, or a big, ugly zit

that won’t go away? Asking a woman to marry you

is like chewing a mixture of gum and Krazy Glue,

then blowing a bubble. If she accepts, you stick

the bubble on the mantle. If she declines, it explodes

in your face, so you stay home to avoid the hey, man,

what’s that pink junk in your eyebrows question.

Marriage frightens me. Not like it jumps out, yelling

Boo! But I know it’s up there, lurking in the hills, ready

to stomp into my life in high heels, like an anti-Viking,

ending all my bad habits, late-night refrigerator pillaging.

Look at my divorced parents sitting there, five feet apart.

Staring at their fingertips, I see sparks. Those palms

made me, like a sand castle that wouldn’t wash away.

I’m a porcupine handshake. They fought so much

that as a child I thought he must’ve asked for her fist

in matrimony by mistake. Some small part of me

wants to see them say I do, or at least how are you.

But that’s not in the cards. Heck, it’s not even in the casino.

The year they stopped talking, my blood followed suit.

My British blood refused to flow above my abdomen.

The Irish stuff pooled up in my chest. I can’t ask

for a woman’s whole hand in marriage. What would I do

with such a thing? Carry it in my back pocket

link a flank steak? No, I’ll downsize my request

to merely a finger. But I’ll be good to that finger: polish

the knuckle, carve a replica of the print on my ceiling,

scrub the nail till it sparkles and becomes the mirror

in which I’ll be judged, ’cause I know it’s so much easier

to be charming to a busboy than kind to the person you love.

-Jeffrey McDaniel



3 Responses to “The Mirror in Which I’ll Be Judged”

  1. lorinditzler March 16, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    I read that whole thing thinking you wrote it! (And thinking, damn Dale, that’s a freaking good poem.) It sounds like you.

  2. mackeyda March 16, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    I wish. It just sounds like me because he doesn’t use fancy words.

  3. Adrienne June 14, 2011 at 9:13 am #


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