The Best Day of Your Life

by Patricia Ace

The Best Day of Your Life
          4th August 1962

You envied the girls who’d had to get married:
their hasty ceremonies, their intimate meals
in discreet hotels for a dozen guests or less

but your mother had other ideas. She booked
the Beach Camp Club for one hundred plus
for a Saturday in August, hurricane season.

A dress was ordered from the Indian seamstress
in Port of Spain; French lace, ivory slipper satin,
with bugle beads and seed pearls, handsewn.

She took the bus to San Fernando and cajoled
the Chinese gardener into giving up his finest
Cattleya orchid for your bouquet, only the best

would do, and sent your father into the bush
in search of palms and ferns to adorn the room.
Then she set about choosing the wedding gifts.

On the day the dining table groaned with booty:
Egyptian cotton, silver plate, stainless steel,
a sewing box, fondue set, lava lamp, pine clock

while you looked on, feeling queasy, knowing
nothing of laundry or housework or cooking
or of what it took to please a man,

sipping from a brand new champagne coup,
its crystal rim fine as a fingernail, delicate,
precious, but far too fragile for daily use.