The Wedding Feast by Amber Bradbury

He tried not to notice
how the priest licked his lips,
how often he wiped his palms,
mistook the trembling for age
as he eyed his new bride.

Outside the church women snatched,
at her bouquet, grabbed gerberas,
caught petals that bruised in their fists.

‘Say cheese.’
And he swore that he heard
over the peal of bells
the grinding of teeth
behind those white smiles.

Nobody touched the starters.
Iceberg wilted, eyes rolled wild.
‘Well let’s eat,’ said his bride,
raised her glass in a toast
that never reached her lips.

Someone slit her stomach
with the knife for the cake,
handed out coiled rings of intestines
portioned up on Royal Doulton plates.

His mother-in-law dug a finger
into one glittered socket, sucked
an eyeball like a sugared almond.

The children hid under tables
gnawed a bone, licked their hands
then wrapped themselves up
in the bloodied wedding dress and slept.

Once the guests had been fed
stomachs swollen, cummerbunds bulged,
they made for the dancefloor
slipped off their shoes,
left footprints in red.

His best man handed him a napkin
dripped blood on his tie,
felt the warm weight
from his wife’s cooling heart
and pondered the hours since
‘death do us part.’

Amber Bradbury is currently studying for a BA in Creative Writing and English Literature with the Open University. She is also working on compiling her first chapbook and a collection of short stories. Her first flash fiction story, ‘Waiting for the Snow’, was featured in Litro magazine and her first piece of poetry, ‘Bluebeard’s Wife,’ will be published in September’s issue of Carmina magazine.