Syrian Wedding Ghazal
by Alan Walowitz
Four guest rabbis set out on the parchment the caterer’s men have laid and smoothed
like a putting green; then the cantor holding the mike, now not the nightclub singer
he started out to be, but a fellow making love, shyly courting Him in a window
above. As he advances side to side, his Hebrew Beauty and the Beast fades, folds into
Sunrise, Sunset arranged for strings alone. And here come the olds—the Jiddohs,
the Siddohs–and violins make the tearful Klezmer mold itself ‘round a Mizrahi syncopate.
Now a gasp, the little girls throw those bold colors to the ground with each studied pose
and a smaller boy in miniature tux, obedient but frozen now, even as his mother pleads–
he won’t be cajoled—she sweeps him up before he turns more sad than sweet.
Then, many retainers–maids, matrons, groomsmen, ushers, assorted honorees, —
all happy by profession or disposition as each holds a momentary mid-aisle pose.
The groom with his parents, who’ve forsaken second spouses for this resplendent event;
then the bride, ah! almost forgot, accompanied by Dad, Mom, half step behind,
but such a glow. Whose wedding is this? Though we’ve been told, we might not know,
as the groom comes to behold, choose his bride, join the legions that have stood beneath
the canopy, enrolled–happy or not–in this enterprise they likely won’t get out alive.
Process Notes: On a rare occasion, I’ve attended an Orthodox Jewish wedding and found myself sitting alone among the men, as my wife sat on the other side with the women. This always feels a bit odd to me, but also seems the perfect time to take notes for a poem. Despite my natural cynicism, this one was really quite an event, the bride lovely, the groom handsome, and the food and drink sumptuous. (Jiddohs and Siddohs, by the way, are Grandpas and Grandmas in Arabic, transliterated as best I can.)
Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry. His chapbook, Exactly Like Love, was published in 2017 by Osedax Press, and his full-length, The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems, published in 2019, is available from Truth Serum Press.