Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Ken Rodgers
First light whispered across the Rhine River gorge at three and met black slate roof tiles and blue-black swallows, our bedroom windows open to defeat the unusual June heat.
We'd quit Tanya and Rainer's wedding about midnight after a long day—my first train trip ever—from Sanct Goar down to Bacharach. The voyage upriver through the Lorelei back to Sanct
Goar. The wedding at the old Catholic church, the violent thunderstorms, the auto promenade along the Rhine, horn honks, the hefty dinner, the many toasts, the strange language, the strangers, the dancing past midnight. Even I danced.
The wedding breakfast on the balcony, the barges plying the waters below, the smell of blooms on the tables, the sausage, bread, strawberries and yogurt, the rich pastries. The bride and groom—-her blonde hair, the slant of light on her skin. And her eyes like some fruit yet to be discovered.
I spoke to the groom's father, who refused to speak English. He believed that when you visited someone's country, you should speak their language.
The maid of honor, Anya, translated.
He said, "This is be a moment you will never forget."
He went on, "You traveled all this way and committed to be a part of this celebration. You can't even speak our language."
I knew ten or twenty words. My chest felt too full of itself. I closed my eyes and felt the words flit by like the wings of swallows.
"Tanya and Rainer will never stop thinking about this day and how you took all the trouble to travel here. You did not have to come here but you did."
I thought I would explode. Was I too tired, too disoriented by travel and strange language, customs, food, culture?
What words followed are lost. He stared at me. Anya stared as she translated. They stood ramrod straight—-proud of the moment, proud of who they are—-beautiful, artistic, industrious people. The bride, Tanya, walked over, curious, I suppose, about our conversation.
I looked at her. She smiled, and her eyes . . .I cannot describe their magnitude. My chest burned and tears leaked out the corners of my eyes. She hugged me as my chest let go like a balloon burst.
Like taking an ass whipping.
You know how I hated that.
Ken Rodgers lives in Boise, Idaho where he’s considered learning German but his English is so poor he needs to have everything he writes edited. See more about Ken at
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