Start with a knot,
the knot your grandfather tied on the day of his wedding
when he married his first wife,
not your Nana.
Start with a short piece of fabric
stitched together with hand sewn precision
in the dim florescent warehouse
in the depths of Korea
The location changes daily depending on the price of shipping,
the cost of labor,
what it takes to do business anywhere but here.
Pull it around the thick neck
cultivated those years playing football.
You were going somewhere
until you tore your meniscus three times,
your achilles once.
Now all that remains is fifteen stitches from the surgery
and the steel pins they left behind.
You’ll never play the same, they said.
And you never did.
Press the folded loop to the adams apple
that you inherited from a man you never met,
pull it past the crisp collar of your rented tuxedo shirt
already stained with nerves.
Fold the other end and tuck one bow behind the other.
Be careful not to smear the makeup she spreads
over the strange tattoo of the wilted flower on your neck
before you go to work
and say things like yes sir,
and of course sir,
and you tuck your accent carefully away.
Even it out and pull the bow tight
the way you pull her close.
You wrap your arms around her
your voice even and cool and you tell her
we can work it out,
and there’s my way or the highway,
but always in jest.
Look in the mirror, take a breath and practice saying I do.
You do take her and her alone.
You do think that dress makes her look great
even though the baby weight has set in
and people will think
she’s just a little bit tubby
because nobody knows.
Tell her you don’t want to be like your father.
Hold her hand, pink with years and sweat
Look her in her pale clear eyes,
and tell her in front of all her grandmas and grandpas
all your aunts and uncles and cousins and friends,
You do. You do. You do.
C. L. Brenton is a novelist and author based in Los Angeles. She will read and write pretty much anything, but is particularly interested in human struggles with death and desire in daily life. She lives in West LA with her handsome fiancee and their two roommates, a cat who sits on everything C. L. writes, and a dog who squirrels away socks.