The poetry and writings of James Gavin are shaped by the landscapes he was born into and embraced, the mountains and plains of Colorado and Wyoming.
On Friday, Gavin will present the essay “How Environmentalism Hasn’t Worked,” written especially for this year’s Lewis-Clark State College Wallace Stegner Lecture.
He is on the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of eight books of poetry, including 2016’s “Everything We Always Knew Was True,” the critically acclaimed prose book “The Meadow” and the novel “Fencing Sky.” He lives in Tie Siding, Wyo., and shared this poem with Inland 360 before his visit.
IF YOU GO
WHO: Writer James Gavin on “How Environmentalism Hasn’t Worked”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26
WHERE: Silverthorne Theater, Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston
ON THE SADNESS OF WEDDING DRESSES
On starless, windless nights like this
I can hear the wedding dresses
Weeping in their closets,
Luminescent with hopeless longing,
Like hollow angels.
They know they will never be worn again.
Who wants them now,
After their one heroic day in the limelight?
Yet they glow with desire
In the darkness of closets.
A few lucky wedding dresses
Get worn by daughters — just once more,
Then back to the closet.
Most turn yellow over time,
Yellow from praying
For the moths to come
And carry them into the sky.
Where is your mother’s wedding dress,
Where is your grandmother’s wedding dress?
Eventually they all disappear,
Who knows where.
Imagine a dump with a wedding dress on it.
I saw one wedding dress, hopeful at Goodwill.
But what sad story brought it there,
And what sad story will take it away?
Somewhere a closet is waiting for it.
The luckiest wedding dresses
Are those of wives
Betrayed by their husbands
A week after the wedding.
They are flung outside the doublewide,
Or the condo in Telluride,
And doused with gasoline.
They ride the candolescent flames,
Just smoke now,
Into a sky full of congratulations.
— James Gavin