I once gave a poem I wrote as a wedding present, slipping the envelope into the basket among all the other envelopes which I’m sure contained money and not poems.
It was years ago, when I lived in Santa Cruz. I remembered this now because I’ve been hunkered down at home against the coronavirus and have found time to go through some old journals.
The poem I wrote was for Maz and Gwendolyn, who lived romantically on a sailboat in a slip in the Santa Cruz Harbor. They would come into the Sea Cloud Restaurant, where I worked. They were a cool and arty couple and I got to know them and they invited me to their wedding. Maz did lighting or artwork for Neil Young. Gwendolyn made crafts. I loved her name, and I used it for the character Gwen, from my first novel STASH.
The wedding was December 2, 1990. That’s the date I wrote in my journal. Right after that, I wrote: “I can’t say I had a good time.”
Lou and Christi who owned the Sea Cloud were at the wedding. And Pat and Jean. And Melidna and Olaf. I came with this woman I’d been trying to win over for six months and knew I never would. Soon I realized she didn’t want to be there, at least not with me. I should have come alone.
The wedding took place in a green meadow in the Santa Cruz Mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a Sunny afternoon. There was a sweet, short ceremony followed by a fresh buffet. Their wedding song was “Unchained Melody.”
I don’t have a copy of the poem I wrote. I remember it had to do with their boat in its cozy slip, and their love, which seemed profound to me, and their boat rigging chiming against the mast in the breeze. When Maz and Gwendolyn sent thank you notes to everyone, they reproduced my poem on the cover of the cards.
A private and personal poem I had written just for them had now been seen by a hundred people, or two hundred. I wasn’t sure how felt about that.
I was thrilled. The most important thing to me then was my writing. And a little bit the woman who didn’t want me.