Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. She has five collections of poetry published by Carcanet. Her most recent collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and The Ted Hughes Award. A two-time winner of the Foyles Young Poets Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was 15. She won a major Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics.
Megan Married Herself
She arrived at the country mansion in a silver limousine.
She’d sent out invitations and everything:
her name written twice with ‘&’ in the middle,
the calligraphy of coupling.
She strode down the aisle to ‘At Last’ by Etta James,
faced the celebrant like a keen soldier reporting for duty,
her voice shaky yet sure. I do. I do.
“You may now kiss the mirror.” Applause. Confetti.
Every single one of the hundred and forty guests
deemed the service ‘unimprovable.’
Especially the vows. So ‘from the heart.’
Her wedding gown was ivory; pointedly off-white,
“After all, we’ve shared a bed for thirty-two years,”
she quipped in her first speech,
“I’m hardly virginal if you know what I mean.”
(No one knew exactly what she meant.)
Not a soul questioned their devotion.
You only had to look at them. Hand cupped in hand.
Smiling out of the same eyes. You could sense
their secret language, bone-deep, blended blood.
Toasts were frequent, tearful. One guest
eyed his wife – hovering harmlessly at the bar – and
imagined what his life might’ve been if
he’d responded, years ago, to that offer in his head:
‘I’m the only one who will ever truly understand you.
Marry me, Derek. I love you. Marry Me.’
At the time, he hadn’t taken his proposal seriously.
He recharged his champagne flute, watched
the newlywed cut her five-tiered cake, both hands
on the knife. “Is it too late for us to try?” Derek whispered
to no one, as the bride glided herself onto the dance floor,
taking turns first to lead then follow.
From In These Days of Prohibition (Carcanet, 2017)