When you get married, you're supposed to give your guests party favors to thank them for coming or to commemorate your big day or to thank them for the gravy boat you didn't want. I've been to weddings where the favor was as simple as a little box of chocolates. Another wedding gave us each a potted plant. Still another couple gave us all guitar picks with their names and wedding date on it.

Our guests ended up taking the decorations, which we encouraged, but that was more of an unofficial favor. We made a paper pinwheel for everyone, made out of book pages and green pencils. The original idea was that people would blow on them (and us) as we made our exit, instead of throwing birdseed or blowing bubbles. I'm not sure how that would have turned out. When I mentioned the idea to someone, they asked if people were supposed to throw the pinwheels at us. In any case, we didn't really make an exit. We left with the last of our guests. The best man drove off with the kegs as we walked out to the parking lot. But people still took the pinwheels, so it counts.

We also made poetry books. I had this idea that Josh could write some poems for the wedding, because what is the point of marrying a poet if you can't demand he write you some love poems? Luckily, he thought this was a great idea, rather than seeing it as a ploy to get myself immortalized. In Josh's poetry club, they all work from the same prompt and then individually go wherever the thought leads them. In this case, love was the prompt.

This is sorta how he writes in general. Except usually there is no poetry buddy or demanding fiancee giving him a prompt. Life gives him prompts by happening, the way life happens to all of us. He just processes life by writing poems, the big wonderful weirdo.

We started with the poem for the invitation. Inside was the pop-up card, but on the front we needed a poem. Now it sounds really sweet that I asked him to write a poem and he did, but it was more of a back-and-forth process than that. The poem we ended up with was maybe the third one he wrote for the assignment, and even that was heavily revised with my input. The first one was not particularly inviting. The second one was just weird, like I dunno, modern poetry or something. I told him that the most poetry-deficient guest would need to be able to understand it, and well, okay, we'll just use me as a guide for what is considered poetry-deficient.

I felt terrible for rejecting his first drafts, and I worried that he would get frustrated and refuse to write any more. Luckily, he saw it as a necessary process to revise the prompt. To me, it was obvious: write a nice love poem for the front of the invitation. But that's the thing about prompts - they mean different things to each writer. And the poem we ended up with was not at all what I had imagined, but that's because it came from him. Something that came out during the process was a desire to keep it general, rather than about us. That was not something I had really thought about, but we returned to it again and again in our planning - make it about love, not us.

So as we went on, the prompt was refined. In the end, we had something we were both happy with. I had him write it out by hand, like it might have been a page from his journal, and then I copied it 100 times on fancy paper. We glued it to pop-up cards and sent it in the mail to a bunch of people, many of whom were poetry-deficient and probably didn't read it.

And then he just wrote some love poems. I did not provide any editorial comment on these, because the prompt was more general now: love poems. He worked on it whenever life prompted him. In the end, he had ten poems. Add to that the one from the invitation and one he wrote me when we were first dating to make a round dozen. I spent a late evening in the office printing them out. He designed a cover by making a heart with some magnetic poetry, and I printed those out, too. Then I gave him a five-minute lesson on how to use the sewing machine, and he sewed each one together. It was his idea to sew them rather than use staples, and the books are much classier for it. The books were a hit among the people who like that sort of thing (the poetry-sufficient?). Several women pointed to a specific one and sighed enviously (as well they should, because check it out, my now-husband wrote me a freakin' book of poems).
Part of the appeal in being with an artist is the idea of being a muse. While that thought does make me sigh dopily, a muse is separate, on a pedestal, whereas a spouse is integrated in the artist's life and creative process. And being a muse is real sweet until you find a poem he wrote when he was really pissed at you (these did not go in the book).

What I like is finding bits of our lives together in the finished product. I can read his poetry and I know where the ideas came from, because we talked about them when they were bouncing around his sweet curly-mopped head. Everyone else sees the output, but I see the input, the prompt. Even when a poem is not about me or for me in any way, I feel closer to him by knowing where his idea came from. I have a tiny insight into the poem, which is good, since being poetry-deficient means I don't often understand the whole of it.

Not that I won't ask him to write me a book of poetry whenever I think I can get away with it. Pedestals are awesome as long as you can get back down.

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