Dutiful Daughter, Dutiful Wife

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Contributor: Rhonda Johnson-Saunders

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In taking first shadowed steps as wife,
wide-eyed and wispy in winter white,
eyes fall below an arch of wicks flaming orange.
Daughter shall bring honor to her family.
Duties fulfilled without question,
for what is true love to a subservient
bride but an impractical wall built
by a modern world, she only sees
from afar, a needless barrier from
what is truth and what shall be?
Too much grief kept alive and fanned
out by instinct to survive, only tears
rain on their hardened land.
Without a dowry, without a chance
for more in life than the plight of mothers
who came before her, daughter resigns
to hide for two cycles of the moon,
mysterious rituals performed, she’s told,
will beautify her form and purify within.
Drained by coming days, she slants
but shall not break. She, his chosen one,
knows her worst fear. She may still be rejected,
returned, but never reprieved. She hopes
to be desired by his dark eyes and prays
she will be suitable to his stringent parents
who unbury old traditions with charred hands.
The fate of a daughter’s impoverished family
depends on her union, her obligatory vows.
For what is love but a weighty, hand-me-down
coat worn to burden a woman? She has shed
her layers, her tender dreams of youth, beneath
orange candlelit glow of arranged marriage. All
who belong to her new world more than she,
sing solemn wishes to husband and wife into
the chill of a moonless night.

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Rhonda Johnson-Saunders is a lifetime lover of reading and writing poetry. She enjoys writing all types of poetry, especially free verse and haiku and has been published in The Heron's Nest. When not writing, Rhonda enjoys music, genealogy, travel and best of all, being a mom to her two young sons.


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