It's hard to forget the deer's ascension, fur and hooves in the air. The girl's Chevy on the shoulder. There were back-ups and gapers' blocks and I knew the ceremony was out of reach. I changed in the bathroom of Kentucky Fried Chicken, unwrapped the new-fangled pantyhose. Body Toners. They promised to fit me in, to raise my lower half, an offering to myself. Outside the church, a man in pinstripes does cabaret kicks on the lawn. No, he's stepping over a low fence. You missed the best part, sweetheart. But here, have a bubble maker. Now bound in matrimony, the couple tumbles down the steps, tangled Slinkys, heads bent and bent again as loved ones throw birdseed. I try to summon an endearing thought about the bride or groom, or the bride and groom together. Seeing her brother at the reception, I recall he offered the groom $5,000 to stop dating his sister. But that was years ago. At Table 7, a man from Oconomowoc tries to wipe away my freckle with his napkin and finally seated, the Body Toners reveal their true unyielding nature. The father of the bride stands to give a toast and shouts, Can you believe it? The city wouldn't allow them to throw rice because of the damn birds and I think: this is a myth. This is Milwaukee. Filet and twice-baked potatoes for everyone but first the minister asks us to take a moment and reflect on love, what role it plays in our lives. Look deep inside and see what love means to you. The meat brings back the deer, how it didn't die soon enough. But table 7 seems so earnest that I close my eyes with them and find departure. Pre-dawn sunflowers and his hands checking the oil, mapping my route. A sack of almonds, passed through the window, a mason jar of tea. I see the long dirt vein of Iowa and the storm that hit just outside town, how the wiper dislocated. A woman lost among cornfields, a loose bolt. His hands always empty at the end, always fading. The minister blesses our food and the crowd looks very shiny and content, very full, although no one has even picked-up a fork. But I'm still stuck on love, sucked into it like Body Toners until the banquet hall folds over us with the sadness of a closed piano. Three a.m., birds swollen with rice explode in the church and it isn't until sunrise I remember the man in belted leather outside Kentucky Fried Chicken. He watched me enter in jeans, exit in heels and a dress. The deer went to the road seeking salt. I was simply running late. So when he followed me to the car, $100 bill in hand, I just laughed. Struck by the smack and skid of want, there's only so much we can offer.
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