Richard Bear: Handcraft

Forty-one hands will be set to this document.
A high-school senior draws it up,
building its parts in a traditional way.
She puts a house among trees, in a small clearing,
and sets a great mountain, wrapped in summer snow,
on the far horizon. Two birds circle overhead,
ravens, I expect, though they might be buzzards;
you can never tell from this far away.
Smoke rises, a little, from the chimney,
breakfast smoke, not enough fire yet for tea,
a work in progress. She makes a border of roses,
not forgetting to include the thorns.
The words of the traditional vows she letters in,
line by line, remembering to leave out the word, "obey."
This is to be a modern Quaker marriage, after all.
Below, she leaves a space untouched, for witnesses:
It is not known, beforehand, who will sign.

Those who come to this wedding will be those
who come every week for Meeting; it is the first
day of the week, it is morning, it is the ordinary time
for sitting and thinking and listening for God.
All such ordinariness is all the sacrament they have.
Afterwards they'll rise, shake hands all round,
and advance to a table to set these names below,
the groom, the bride, the thirty-nine witnesses,
old and young. Some of the ink that is used
will begin to disappear, but memory serves
to take its place. The vows are set to last one span
of years, you, see; as long as our minds endure,
we two will remember who we are.