The origins of the word come from more than 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, where marriage was a contract and a bride was procured at a price that could be refunded under certain conditions like her infertility or death. There was also, supposedly, a thing called "The Babylonian Marriage Market," which a British artist painted in 1875 depicting a row of girls seated on rugs of animal pelt—one of them anxiously checks her face in a hand mirror, while the girl beside her looks impassively at nothing at all. The girl on the auction block's already veiled, perhaps signifying that someone has bought her as his wife. Just like we do in the modern world, they'd celebrate nuptials with feasts and presents: gold, silver, garments, food. The Babylonians used a lunar calendar; there's another story about how, in the month after the wedding, the bride's father would let the groom have all the mead he wanted— a beer or wine of fermented honey and yeast. This is where the word honeymoon makes its first appearance. It's not until upwards of the late 1500s that it becomes associated with the idea of a pleasant hiatus away before the couple takes up the tasks of ordinary life. After we were married (potluck reception, but special-ordered cake), we realized we never really went on that kind of honeymoon— Sure, the rental we got for the ceremony was right by a tourist town famous for its May wine made from Riesling grapes and flavored with woodruff herb. But thanks to a freak winter storm, most of our guests were stuck there with us for the duration of the weekend. Besides, we couldn't afford a trip somewhere else with warm sea and sand, the kind you have to pay airline tickets and hotel reservations for. Once in a while we still talk about it, about where we'd go. Perhaps not for a whole month, but somewhere wondrously detached by just the slightest translucent membrane from a world of mortgages and bills and nine-to-fives.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) is the 2023 Immigrant Writing Series prize winner for Caulbearer: Poems (due out from Black Lawrence Press in 2024), and Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.