Poem: Beyond the Veil

I watch the tourist bride & groom

snap-frozen for the camera.

Smiling in the shadow of

its towering silhouette.

Guardian of ships,

sheโ€™s now fully automated.

The lighthouse keeper

is long gone.

Thrown into the spotlight,

the tourist bride & groom

try on their celebrity smiles:

so awkward,

almost robotic.

Their performance unrehearsed,

bride and groom for one day.

Married for a life time.

Or, maybe not.

An Easterly wind blows

straight in my face.

So close

that I can almost smell its breath.

It slaps me hard on both cheeks,

like a frozen fish.

If I were a kite,

I would fly!

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

The bride & groom who inspired this poem were posing for photos from this lookout. Providing a stunning ocean backdrop, they also balanced precariously above these steep, jagged plunge into the rough surf.

Tourist bride & groom

perched so precariously

on the edge of the abyss,

the lookout giving way to the sea.

Waves gnashing their teeth

against the rocks.

Shipwrecks, disaster

are no stranger to these

savage, unforgiving shores…

a watery grave.

Following a change in the guard,

a Northerly blows through

with a vengeance,

seizing her bridal veil

too fast for a grasping hand

to intervene.

Pirouetting in slow motion

through the air with such grace,

almost Swan Lake,

it comes to rest in the surf

where there is no peace.

Just the savagery of the brutal sea.

She stares through tears

at her diamond ring,

which has suddenly lost

so much of its sparkle.

It might just be chance

but deep in her heart

she fears the winds of fate

have spoken.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

The rocks at the base of the lookout.

How can it be

that even our loftiest dreams

can crash so quickly,

broken by the waves?

Those waves

which never, ever

pause to stop.

The waves pounding the shore....Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

Byron Bay Lighthouse September 2015.

I started writing this poem while watching a Japanese bride and groom posing for their wedding photos at the lookout. Geoff and the kids were walking down to signposted Most Easterly Point in Australia and onto the beach down below, which was too much of a walk for me. They also had the camera. They were gone for about an hour, giving me plenty of time to watch and absorb the waves ferociously crashing on the waves down below. You really feel the strength and power of the mighty Pacific Ocean here and the waves are huge, powerful, incredibly beautiful but also unforgiving.

I ended up watching this bride and groom posing for their photos for some time. They clearly weren’t feeling comfortable, like so many bride and grooms. They spend there big day being photo models without any preparation or training. Being an extrovert myself, I’ve always loved having my photo taken and have my photo face. People tell me that I look a lot better in photos. However, that didn’t mean I didn’t feel some compassion for this poor bride and groom being tortured by their photographer.

I was standing quite a distance away and from where I was standing, I saw most of the steep escarpment behind them, which became quite an allegoryt for the ruggedness of real life after the wedding is over. Sure, it’s not all hard work but it’s not a fairytale wrapped up in lace and rose petals either.

The bride’s veil didn’t fly away but I could help imagining how that would look with the veil leaping over the edge and spiralling towards its death in the surf.

How would you feel as a bride if your veil flew away like that? I couldn’t help but feel a little superstitious, despite my Christian beliefs. Brides can be very anxious creatures and any sign of trouble becomes magnified and instantly catastrophised.

However, my husband, who is more pragmatic, said what would it matter if the veil flew away after the wedding? It’s done its job.

Anyway, any insights would be much appreciated.Do you have any wedding disasters to share?

xx Rowena

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

The Photographer Bride: taking photos at my own wedding. Totally incorrigible.

16 thoughts on “Poem: Beyond the Veil

  1. trentpmcd

    I did not take any pictures my wedding day, though I did take quite a few rolls of film with me to Italy for the honeymoon. (I haven’t thought about film since at least the last millennia ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

    I like the poem and the pictures. I agree with your husband that after the wedding the veil did its job and may have actually looked pretty if it really did flutter down to the pounding surf…

  2. Tessa

    Except for the small wedding album done by photographer we lost all our pictures. Doesn’t matter now, we are divorced LOL!

    My daughter had her veil crapped on by birds. We had to calm her down and gently wash the areas off.

  3. New Journey

    My husband would of said the same exact thing….LOL what a beautiful day at the lighthouse….great pictures…you could make copies for cards and sell them.. great poems.xxKat

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  6. merrildsmith

    Sometimes when we are walking around in Philadelphia, we see a bride and groom posing for photos, or sometimes an entire wedding party. It always makes me happy to see them.

    I can well imagine the bride and groom feeling a bit anxious with the waves and the wind–that more so than taking photos for the wedding. I always feel that I look awful in photos, but I still want them, especially on a special event like a wedding.

    The setting is amazing though, and it certainly inspired you!

    I’m glad my dress and veil were not ruined, since my older daughter wore my wedding gown, and my younger daughter used some of the lace from my veil. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. roweeee Post author

    Thanks, Merril. I have heard some interesting stories about wedding dresses. My Dad’s mother who was the concert pianist tried dying hers blue to be re-used as a concert dress. It was WWII and fabric was scarse and everyone was re-using what they could. The dyeing mucked up and so she ended up burning her wedding dress in the backyard. I’m afraid that image sounds like someone possessed but quite a story. I was bridesmaid for a friend and we stopped to take photos on the way to the Church and tyre black got on her dress and we were madly pinning it to hide it.
    I can’t see my daughter wearing my dress as she is tiny but perhaps she’ll remodel it.
    Its really beautiful that your daughters could incorporate and even wear your gown. My Mum hired her wedding dress but we used her father’s Bible in the ceremony, which had been handed down from his grandfather and was printed in around 1880. That was special.

  8. merrildsmith

    My mom got married during WWII and didn’t have a wedding gown. That is some story though about dying and then burning the gown! Seems a bit of overkill. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think you may have mentioned about using the bible to me before. That is very special.

  9. Alex Hurst

    A beautiful poem, Rowena. I could feel the tension climbing, and climbing, and like the waves, mercilessly continuing. The touch of the veil drowned in the froth of seawater was especially poignant. On such a special day, the varnish would be scratched, wouldn’t it? But I think it goes back to pedestals, and how we raise things to such lofty ideals that any deviation results in the destruction of joy or solace from that thing.

    It’s one of the reasons I actually actively avoid trying to learn more about the people I find myself admiring. There will invariably be some true, human flaw that upsets me, and then I can’t find the same excitement and happiness in the person’s work, which I know speaks more on my own character than theirs. Something I should work on, perhaps.

  10. roweeee Post author

    Thank you so much, Alex. I have thought a bit about this thing of role models and putting people on pedestals. I have been slowly working my way through the Proust Questionnaire and the next question is: Which living person do you admire most? That is really difficult for me because I am so conscious that people do some horrific things behind closed doors like Rolf Harris and you can look up to them and then you find that out. I have a few people close to me who I really respect and I know that have some faults but nothing monumental.
    I don’t think that setting moral or whatever standards for the people you want to respect, admire and emulate is a fault but more of a virtue. When you admire someone, you are making a huge investment in them. You trust them and sometimes you can trust them with you life. So I think perhaps instead of avoiding it, confront and find out who they are but be fair and not to expect them to be any less perfect than anyone else.
    I hope that makes sense.
    Take care xx Rowena

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