It may happen / that scraps / of a tiered cake turn up

A black and white photo of the poet, Russell Thornton, against a sea-green background.
The Walrus

Everything is marrying everything again.
You can smell it—
the waste overflowing the dumpster.
The thrown bouquet,
the glittering eyes, the grins,
the lucky couple,
the guests posting for photos—
it all comes back
in the plastic garbage bags heavy with slop.
Here in the dark,
within a large metal box,
the wedding vows are being taken again
in chemical utterances,
the I do‘s purer here
than in any other ceremony.
Now the men come with carts,
prop open the dumpster lid,
and begin their search
for cans and bottles.
It may happen
that scraps
of a tiered cake turn up.
Seagulls and crows
whirl around the men’s head like angels,
and they flap and hop
around the men’s feet
as they come down the lane
crying divorce
from dumpster to dumpster.
But everything is marrying again,
couple upon couple
is marrying again
within the rot,
and the men who live on the rot,
who pick through
the wedding waste,
and cash in the refundables
to get high,
are marrying everything
again and again
within themselves.
When the truck
wide as the lane arrives
and a driver works controls
to lift and empty this dumpster,
the men scatter
like seagulls and crows,
take off pushing their carts
rattling like skeletons,
hurry away with their loot like time.

Russell Thornton
Russell Thornton is the author of The Hundred Lives (2014), which was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. His newest collection is The Broken Face (2018). He lives in North Vancouver.