Iowa Writes

from "Bride in Beige"

My sister was married in Memphis, in 1960, in a beige two-piece suit she chose herself, with beige lace covering the jacket and a matching pillbox hat. She was seventeen. I was in first grade. I remember her showing me a picture of her outfit before the day, wanting me to understand its elegance and worldliness. I think at the time I did—though it was a very different thing to look back at that glamorous choice forty-some years later, when I was writing a memoir concerned with the process of esthetic education. How long had it been since I thought of the wedding outfit! There it was, in memory, as if it had been folded carefully in some drawer in the mind, still that stiff rustle to its pearly underlining, luster unchanged by time—which is the ironic way of memory. Things you remember often change and date, any more immediate perception replaced by the stories we tell about them. But that which we don't know we remember—well, those things seem untouched.

Why, in the Tennessee of 1960, would a young woman choose not to wear a white dress? What was being announced? Did she, I wonder, make that choice herself? Did my parents, knowing she was a few months pregnant, forbid virginal white, or was my sister being proudly modern, a young woman ahead of her time?

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Mark Doty is the author of seven books of poems and four volumes of nonfiction prose. The entire essay "Bride in Beige" can be found in Truth in Nonfiction: Essays, edited by David Lazar and published this month by University of Iowa Press.

Truth in Nonfiction Site

University of Iowa Press

This page was first displayed
on May 08, 2008

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