The year was Nineteen-Fifty-Three.
No matter how they fought it,
the serfs were at the mercy of
a revenuer’s audit.
With pinch-nose glasses, black bow tie,
and humorless demeanor,
he sorted through two shoeboxfuls
of records: Lean Years/Leaner
“Aha! Looks like I’ve gotcha now!
the tax man squealed (excited).
“I don’t see any income claimed
for weddings. Where’d ya hide it?”
The preacher said, “Let me explain.
I’ve made it a tradition,
when payment’s offered by the groom,
to hold my hand out, fishin’
as if I’m gonna keep it — then
as speedy as a rocket
I hand it over to the bride.
It never hits my pocket.”
“Tradition, humph — the bottom line:
You earned it, preacher. Pay the fine.”
~ ~ ~
It was a new millennium.
A couple celebrated
their golden anniversary.
A trip was due; they made it.
Rejoicing in the fellowship,
like beans with macaroni,
they thanked the man who’d joined the two
in holy matrimony.
The erstwhile groom, a preacher too,
proposed a toast. (He’d planned it
for fifty years.) “Now listen up,”
he winked. “you’ll understand it.”
“I offered money once,” he said,
“for services well rendered —
ten dollars, half of what we had.
You turned around and tendered
it back to her.” (The woman’s eyes
were misty.) “We still owe it
with compound interest due, so here’s
a hundred bucks. Don’t blow it.”
A proud tradition needn’t stop.
You’ve earned it, preacher. Reap your crop.
2003 Mary Boren
Based on a true story involving my dad, who is shown in the photo with a different couple. More, including his own poetry, at Hal Upchurch Chronicles