Poem of the Week | March 15, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Bitch Interrupts a Wedding” by Jenny Molberg!

Jenny Molberg is the author of two poetry collections: Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017) and Refusal (LSU Press, 2020). She has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Longleaf Writers Conference. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, West Branch, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, The Cortland Review, Diode, and other publications. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and co-edits Pleiades magazine. Find her online at jennymolberg.com or on Twitter at @jennymolberg.


Bitch Interrupts a Wedding

A black and blue pipevine butterfly
noses the collars of orange zinnias—something

someone might write a poem about,
someone who isn’t a bitter bitch, or mostly likely a man

with nothing else to do but splooge his sensitive musings
down a sentence paved with fancy names

for insects or plants or birds—O swoon, red-banded
hairstreak butterfly, O sigh and hark the yonder Black-Eyed

Susans, the rudbeckia subtomentosa,
the night hawk and dickcissel—and I stop by

the cave trickle of a natural spring where air is cold
as a winter tongue or Cailleach’s outstretched hand

or some bullshit, side-stepping the bikers who have stopped
to smooch in the grotto, my hand over my mouth because I have forgotten

my mask, so that now, ambling down the charming Victorian
Ozarkian streets I appear to be in a constant state of shock,

gasping into my own hand, and actually, I am in a constant state
of shock, as I had long ago decided that the universe

could only really push a person so far, that, if there was no God,
at least the world possessed a kind of omniscient fairness,

a cosmic balance, trees leaning into wind, meaning in the goo
of the chrysalis that turns to prismatic wings,

and with the one hand over my mouth and the other
on the hiking trail railing to guide my arthritic knee

I think, at least there’s this lovely respite, gazing
onto the green and dappled light

as forty unmasked faces, weird little forest moons,
crank upwards—an ivory dress, and bridesmaid blue,

fall flowers and pews and an aisle, and I hear the minister
saying and now I pronounce you as the bride in her sparkling

white lace waits patiently for this bitch to stop ruining the moment
her life will begin forever and I blubber back up the stairs

picking a piece of mossy bark from my ponytail
and the sun prisms my arms and a passing hawk

darkens the afternoon for just a moment,
and I am young, and I am breathing, and,

praise Ozark Jesus, I am the interruption
and not the wanted moment that will pass.


Author’s Note

Butterflies, bouquets, birds, bitches, brides, bullshit…I recently stood stunned in a museum before a Vanessa German piece that described its own materials in poetic form and ended, “there’s so much to carry.” This poem was written out of a too-much feeling in a year where the nation, the globe, its citizens, its workers, its teachers, and its families have had far too much to carry. Art, I think, is perhaps the truest way to share the weight of truth, in all its utterances. The pastoral has the potential to enact escape in an era when turning away from our urgent societal concerns could be enacting violence on others and on ourselves. The pastoral is a luxury that I don’t think we have. There is luxury in knowing how to name the plants and animals of our world, a world we are actively killing and which seeks to keep many of its citizens from the nuances and truths of their own languages. In this “bitch” series of poems I’ve been writing, I seek not necessarily to reclaim the word, which I think has been done successfully by many others, but to excavate the inner misogyny that leads me to fear bitchdom, a kind of shame driven by internalized toxic masculinity. This, on top of the surreal magnitude of death and violence we’re facing today, has brought about a sense of gratitude for passing moments rather than moments that symbolize a false future built under systems of oppressive notions of certainty.