Richard James Allen – The Wedding Dress

Profile Richard James Allen Live Encounters Poetry & Writing March 2018

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The Wedding Dress, a poem by Richard James Allen

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

It floats through space
like an abandoned satellite,
gliding without sound or friction.
It no longer transmits its signal
to the willing believers
on the ground below
but somehow they hear it anyway.

Like the monolith in 2001, the wedding dress
stands at the limits, the frontiers, of our knowing.
It guards against what we cannot think,
which is whatever is beyond the technology of our biology.

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

We hang on to things which trigger associations.
Tickets to that transfixing piece of theatre, t-shirts for that lost cause,
photos from the pre-digital world of the people we once loved.

These objects are like the wedding dress –
golden calves raised to the banality of our happiness,
sentinels standing over the graves of our inner landscapes,
shadows on the sunset of the horizons of those
never brave enough to leave the doll’s house.

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

Who invented this institution?

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

We can’t stop doing it, apparently.  Getting married.  Generation after generation.
We probably would do it even if we didn’t know what it was, if we didn’t have a name for it,
if we didn’t know it was an option.  We’d find our way towards it.  We’d want it.
And we’d be bereft without it.

Even after we found out how complicated it is.

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

I had been dreaming about you.
After a rocky start, I was happy to report that
we had been beginning to get along again.
I said again, though I couldn’t have been sure
that we ever truly did, but perhaps you don’t have
to get along, to love someone.

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

Oh sure,
I had drifted back into in love again.
How many times would ever be enough?
I was awash with love,
its waves perturbed me endlessly,
as the ocean continuously bothers
and entertains the shore.

I was drowning in love
I am drowning in fury

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

And so now the dress remains.
Not the memories of the lives lived in it.
Not the excitement of the first fitting.
Not the moment when all eyes were turned
because they had to
and then because they wanted to.
Not those early hours
when it was peeled off in tenderness
to reveal, under its skin of beauty,
the skin of love.

Now the dress remains,
with only the air inside it.

The same air I breathe.

Why am I so angry
at this wedding dress?

for the first time in a long time perhaps i am not

Why am i so in love
with this wedding dress?

i started dreaming of you again tonight
and our immense companionability

and with it
the shuddering intimacy
of words

but even though
we talked

i’m not sure that words were
the medium
of our friendship

which was based so much on
the glance
and the touch

the unspoken sharing of
our own private
parallel universe

which i feel
i am out there in

some blazing star
with you


Australian born Richard James Allen’s ten books of poetry, fiction and performance texts include Fixing the Broken Nightingale (Flying Island Books), The Kamikaze Mind (Brandl & Schlesinger) and Thursday’s Fictions (Five Islands Press), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry.  His writing has appeared widely in magazines, journals, anthologies and online over thirty years.  Richard has had a unique international career as a multi-award-winning writer, director, choreographer, filmmaker and performer, with screen adaptations of his poetry and other films shown at over two hundred and fifty national and international festivals and other screenings as well as on television around the world, and live readings, performance adaptations and appearances presented at over one hundred and fifty venues on three continents. The recipient of numerous awards (including three ATOM Awards) and nominations (including the Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award and the Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting), Richard won the Chancellor’s Award for the most outstanding PhD thesis at the University of Technology, Sydney. Former Artistic Director of the Poets Union Inc., and director of the inaugural Australian Poetry Festival, Richard co-edited the landmark anthology, Performing the Unnameable: An Anthology of Australian Performance Texts (Currency Press/RealTime).  Website: 

The Physical TV Company:
Fixing the Broken Nightingale:
The Kamikaze Mind:
Thursday’s Fictions:
Richard James Allen at the Australian Poetry Library:
Richard James Allen at IMDb:

© Richard James Allen