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.