Mudlark No. 60 (2016)

Marry in Black

I married your Daddy in a black satin dress. Sudie, 
don’t stand by the window, I’ll tell you the story.
We ran off to Wheeling, didn’t tell a soul.
The day after Christmas, 1931.
Marry in black, wish yourself back.
It was the Depression. It was my best dress.

We got married in a preacher’s kitchen, 
the preacher’s wife in her housecoat, a year 
to the day that Frank Faolain died.
Marry in blue, love ever true.  
Don’t lean on the bed, Sudie, don’t give me that look.
Your Daddy was a good man, with sandy red hair. 

But he was old, and a cold husband. Oh, now 
I am old, too — how old am I now?  
Frank Faolain had indigo eyes, hair black as time.
A brand new Packard, but it ran off the road.
What a life I could have had — my Frankie, he’d have 
sailed me to Paris! Orchids and cinnamon tea.  

On my soul, I wanted to die. And then poor Frankie 
so broody in the grave — oh, what a drafty house
the preacher had, the windowpanes all rattling.  
The porch door banged and banged. 
Sudie, why do these things come back to me?
The wind always calls me by name.

You were so cross when you were a child, when I’d take 
to my bed. You wanted your Mama to comb her hair.
Or did your Daddy put you up to it?
Frank Faolain was the only one who understood. Oh, 
as though he were inside me. Nights 
his face in the window —

We ran off to Wheeling, your Daddy and I.  
My mother read our letters, but didn’t tell the neighbors.
But the principal found out — 
It was the Depression. Jobs were for men or for girls 
with no husband. But your Daddy had no job.  
Your Daddy was out of work.

They wouldn’t let me empty out my desk.  
My students made a petition with drawings of tears.
I want my pictures back: me standing with my class. But now 
Frankie is here. And a white dress. And a beaded shawl,
with rosettes and ivy. Now I’ll have a wedding in the church 
and Mother will forgive me. 

Don’t stand by the window, you’re blocking my light.  
Crosspatch, crooked stick. Your face will freeze that way. Marry 
in red, wish yourself dead. Revlon Revenesence cream is best. 
Frankie is here. And the white dress, ruffles to the floor, 
buttons at the wrist. I’ll slip my arms into the sleeves.
He'll button me up, so many silk buttons up the back.

Sue D. Burton | Red
Contents | Mudlark No. 60 (2016)