The Wedding Picture

By Mark Belair

Back in the 1940’s, the name big bands—the Glenn Miller, the Benny Goodman,
the Dorsey Brothers—all played the covered Pier at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

From the beach, strolling arm-in-arm with my father, my mother said she could
see the nighttime pier, strung with lights, swaying from the jitterbugging bobbysoxers.

Then again, she
was in teenage love.

My teenage father first noticed my mother in St. Ignatius Church when she
looked up the aisle he was coming down and he saw those big brown eyes.

Soft, needy eyes that made him—harnessed by the early loss of his father
and early care for his fragile, melancholy mother—feel released inside.

For what those lost eyes seemed to long for, he knew, from experience,
he could provide.

In one wedding picture, they stroll, arm-in-arm, as newlyweds, up that very
church aisle, and if you enter the picture you can almost smell the flowers,

but also salt air; can hear the recessional organ music, but also
the breaking ocean, the distant swing band, the creaking pier.

This black-and-white photo—crumpled, creased, scratched, torn—that
encodes the remedial, dangerous, black-and-white love of the young.



Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Atlanta Review, The Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poetry East and The South Carolina Review. His latest collection is Watching Ourselves (Unsolicited Press, 2017). Previous collections include Breathing Room (Aldrich Press, 2015); Night Watch (Finishing Line Press, 2013); While We’re Waiting (Aldrich Press, 2013); and Walk With Me (Parallel Press of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, 2012). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Please visit

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