Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018

After the Wedding

For us there is deep under the skin

a kind of desire, not one we will

ever indulge, but one we will always

think of as a longing. A man, though

liberated, feels a welling in him

when his woman makes him a plate;

this is a kind of weakness, though

it is the language of strength.

Like you know the eyes of the fisherman,

standing at his doorway with the pipe

like a saxophone; the chillum

of triumph on the morning after

his wedding, taking a draw, with

the once girl, now woman, who wept

and bled dutifully, and fed him with

a smile, waving to the world from their

window, something like pride in her face;

this is familiar as the wounds men

have inflicted on women forever,

and in the knowing is the admission—

smoke fills the doorway, thick as a veil.

Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty-one books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. In 2016 his book, Speak from Here to There, a co-written collection of verse with Australian poet John Kinsella, appeared. His most recent collection is City of Bones: A Testament (Northwestern University Press, 2017). He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, and teaches at the University of Nebraska and the Pacific MFA Program. He is director of the African Poetry Book Fund and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.