The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Paul Alexander

End of a Marriage


It all started out with such promise.
The bride walked down the aisle wearing
the dress of her dreams — an antique white gown

with a Queen Anne neckline and a flowing train.
At the alter, the groom glanced back
to catch a glimpse of his bride, the look on his face

a snapshot of adoration. If anyone objected
to the union of this man and this woman, he chose
to forever hold his peace, and the minister

married the couple. They kissed, more a peck
than a kiss. Later, the bride guided the groom
as, holding hands, they cut the wedding cake together.

They departed into the night under a shower of rice.
That was years ago. Where did it all go wrong?
When did the end begin? When did the First Dance

fade into a memory so distant it can only be
remembered by thumbing through pictures
in a wedding album? I’ve tried to answer that question

but I can’t. The end of a marriage comes
not suddenly but gradually, an avalanche in slow motion.
I do know this much, as I sit here tonight

in a room lit only by the lamp beside my chair,
ice cubes clicking in my scotch as I drink.
It was my fault the marriage ended.

Finally, I pick up my wedding album. I begin flipping
through it, lingering on one page, then another, as if to
reacquaint myself with the couple being photographed.




PAUL ALEXANDER is the editor of the essay collection Ariel Ascending: Writings About Sylvia Plath and the author of seven books, including Rough Magic, a biography of Plath, and Salinger, a biography of J.D. Salinger that was the basis of Shane Salerno’s documentary Salinger, which appeared on American Masters on PBS. He has published nonfiction in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Village Voice, The Boston Globe, and The New York Review of Books, among many others. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry (Chicago), The Sewanee Review, Southern Poetry Review, Poem, Poetry Now, Mississippi Review, The Louisville Review, The Vanderbilt Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, The Spoon River Quarterly, The Black Warrior Review, The Hiram Poetry Review, and The Gay and Lesbian Review. He is the author of Edge, a one-woman play about Sylvia Plath. A graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he teaches at the Eugene Lang College at The New School in New York City.



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