For the June of weddings here is a poem by Benjamin Alire Saenz, from his book Dark and Perfect Angels, published by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, Tex. Saenz, who teaches at the University of Texas in El Paso, grew up in New Mexico, studied theology here and in Europe, was ordained a priest, left the priesthood, became a writer and married a woman he had known since his childhood in Las Cruces. He's also the author of a book of short stories, Flowers for the Broken (Broken Moon Press), and a novel, Carry Me Like Water (Hyperion). The poem reads like an epithalamium -- a poem to bless a wedding -- that must have been written for friends, one of the useful occupations of a poet:

The Wedding Feast at Cana

This, the first of his miracles, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.

-- John 2:11

for Larry and Katy

A man and woman meet. They fall

in love. This has been written; this

has been read; this is an old story.

In the body there is a place;

those who work will know this space,

will know it's hard and holy, will

know it wears away the heart. We may

curse it day and night; we may

speak of it, point to it, pray to it --

it will not be appeased.

Listen to your names:

their sounds are like

no other: whispers of the world

needing to know if there is joy.

Is there joy? Listen to the hunger

forever -- that song will never cease.

The song is sad. You

will never be full. Stay. Listen

to the hunger. Do not turn

from that sound. You cannot

run from earth. Naked

you came from the dirt. Naked you must

return. Flesh is flesh and it is flesh

till death.

This day, words

like thirst, and flesh, and hunger

mean marriage. Water is turned

into wine. This is the day of miracles.

Take. Drink. The best has been

saved for the poor. Taste. This is the cup

of salvation. Be drunk. Touch. Make love

through the lonely night -- but when you wake

remember: this wine is good and sweet

but you will thirst again.

The book of life is hard to write:

it is written with bone and blood;

it is written with hearts that labor

and labor, beat and beat until the walls

fall down. Begin. Write: in the kingdom

of the naked, working heart

shame is banished. A man and woman

meet -- this is an old -- write it!

Begin. Begin. Begin.

("The Wedding Feast at Cana" from "Dark and Perfect Angels" by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Cinco Puntos Press. Copyright 1995 by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Used by permission of the author and Cinco Puntos Press.)