There is a bride and groom and all their white attendants,
and the boardwalk is crowded with people dressed for winter,
taking a late afternoon walk through lengthening shadows,
leaning on the intricate wrought iron fence, looking out over
the Saint Lawrence as the tankers haul fuel to Quebec.
The groom is a captain in the Royal Canadian Navy, the bride
is underdressed. A gust from the river billows her lace overskirt
to one side, toppling the flower girl, who’d been swinging
her calla lilies like a censer. The photographer leaps, leads
the flower girl out of frame, crouches again. We cannot hear
what he says to the couple, as the wind has turned
and a piano tuner’s stutter-step peppers the air.
It’s almost fog, the way the notes wrap around them.
Now the groom steps in front of his beloved, takes
her reddened ears in his hands, and moves his mouth over her face, blowing.
Just like this, a man blows the froth across the surface
of a cup of hot chocolate before he begins to drink.
"Hot Chocolate" first appeared in Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, fall 2004, vol. 48, no. 1.