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POETRY The Wedding Dance Before the last of everything, late May, the village apron, a canopy of plum leaves the horse-hide drum’s belly-ump the peasant flutes and mandolin, roasting mutton, basted salmon, the sky stained wine, Bulus twirling his babies tossing them into the air, dizzy and gasping, Nuhu Mohammed, the Albanian, swirling his silk robes, his shimmery vest with beaded gems, his velvet slippers, his wife clicking her castanets under a hive of woven hair, her jade and tourmaline necklace, his sons plucking the newborn, pink blossoms from lower branches, Kamal whirling his bride in circles, her wet mouth open, her mouth sweet cherry, a mouthful of kisses, his eyes like two ripe olives about to burst with tears, his dancing a comical lurching, his mother is serving baklava, his father is smoking with gusto, Babo, with his trimmed mustache and manicured hands is roasting coffee in a copper pot, he’s singing to no one who is listening, and Black Maria is slicing the bread, slicing the steamy walnuts, the steamy raisins, she’s slicing the sarma, she’s ladling potatoes and sauerkraut, she’s flirting with teenage boys even though she’s past thirty, and the boys are snitching cups of silver vodka when the bride’s father isn’t looking, he’s dealing a pair of plow horses with thick rumps and quince-colored hide, he’s drunk and his mouth is clumsy, his speech exaggerated, his hands flying about like two pigeons, his wife is recording the gifts, the stainless steel this, the cordless that, the heirloom from Aunty Anka, the paper worth saving and reusing, the hodja smiling benevolently, pronouncing his blessings, slurping his cabbage soup, drooling a little at the corners, dribbling a little on the chin, the older men reminiscing, Startie and Mela and Nicko and Emil, not dancing but wishing to, singing but forgetting the words, retelling the old stories, laughing and wheezing and living back then another hour, three elderly women linking arms and dancing, joining the circle like three toothless crows, swinging their amplish hips, kicking their legs in and out and recalling their own faraway weddings, the sun appearing briefly, for good luck, the breeze dying at sunset, the whole village celebrating the union of two of their own, two of their best until the planes flew overhead. Michael Borich Michael Borich teaches at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. His recent book is The Kingdom of Wrack, about “the suicide of Yugoslavia,” his country of ethnic origin. Other books include Different Love The Black Hawk Songs Naomi Shihab Nye. 6/6/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21