The bride was late, the church was cold,
the organ in the loft was old
and unskilled fingers on the keys
brought forth a strange asthmatic wheeze.
Some stumbling notes and then, with pride
announced the coming of the bride
and though the guests had done their best,
her beauty far outshone the rest.

The service over, they were one;
the kissing and the photos done,
the mixed assembly, one and all,
repaired in convoy to the hall.
Stray relatives were rounded up
with promise of a warming cup
and aunts and uncles, kith and kin
at last were safely gathered in.

The hall bedecked with loving care;
the parents of the bride were there
welcoming the guests with sherry wine.
“So glad the weather has stayed fine.”
The wedding feast was nicely done
with ham and beef and pork and tongue
but everyone was quite repressed
in brand new clothes or ‘Sunday Best’.

One person seemed relaxed and gay
but who she was, no one could say.
Then someone said she was the wife
of Tom, who they’d known all his life.
They said she was a kindly soul,
though rather common, on the whole.
Her family was pretty rough
but Tom seemed quite content enough.

She nudged her neighbour as she drank
and told them that her Uncle Frank,
who everyone had thought was slow
had wed a girl with lots of dough’
She loved the speeches, every one
and thought the hoary jokes were fun.
The beacon of her smile was such,
folks thought they felt a loving touch.

The disco man was very keen
to animate the social scene
but folks, intent in little cliques,
like oil and water, didn’t mix.
The bride cast round a worried glance
as nobody got up to dance.
She’d dreaded it would all fall flat.
Why did they all stand round and chat?

Then Tom’s wife rose and took the floor.
Alone she danced , then danced some more,
then to the guests began to sing.
Oh, heavens! How embarrassing!
The gaudy dress, the brassy hair,
her happy heart was unaware
of scorn. She knew for girl and boy
their wedding was a time for joy.

When once a fire is burning bright
it’s warmth pervades the coldest night
and soon the guests began to thaw
then others ventured on the floor.
The guest who knew then quietly sighed,
“A month ago, she nearly died.
They hope it’s clear, too soon to speak,
they operate again, next week.”

Unknowing and helped by the wine
the party now was going fine.
I glanced at Tom, whose loving gaze
shone on her through the smoky haze.
Each guest had come out of their shell,
the bride was laughing, all was well.
Tom’s wife was happy for the pair
and I was humbled, sitting there.

When all the revellers had gone
and we were clearing up the mess,
I mused on this encounter with
a soul who’d shared her happiness.
The bride had had her lovely day,
the common wife had gone her way.
She’d looked on death and shown us life,
this woman, this uncommon wife.

© Marion Sharville

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