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Wander


What we don't know we don't know,
so accept it. If your mother wandered

when your father was stationed in France
during the war before you were born,

before you were even conceived, so be it.
No matter what her sister told you

years later, after your mother died,
what does this matter now?

Your job anyway is to be the daughter,
to stay open to where you are,

your ear toward the glistening insects
that draw your eye to the wild azaleas

pushing their pale pink selves out of
the limestone ledge just over the edge

of the bluff where your house sits.
What you don't know

you will never know. Look instead
at the fluttering pink blossoms, at the lichen

stuck to the limestone ledge beneath them.
Look at the pale thumbprint of the moon

in the pale afternoon sky. The house is nearly
empty now, nearly no longer yours—

tables and chairs sold, couches and beds
given away, trash dumped, books and dishes

boxed and stacked for the truck
that's on its way. Everything is somewhere

else now, intact or scattered. It doesn't matter.
More than once your father wrote

from the field hospital about the nurses.
What was it like to read those letters?

These insects must be honeybees heavying
with nectar—so many lifting in and out

of the wild azaleas you can almost smell their
desire. Wild like your mother's may have been.

Like your husband's was. But you don't know
anything. You can sit on the porch

of this emptying house and think
whatever you think. You never apologized

for your own lies. Your husband apologized
too much. Even then the moon slept on its side,

its good ear deep in its pillow.
Your job was to be the wife and mother,

the daughter. To be whatever you are now.
The moon has its own job. The house

will fill again. Perhaps you are tired
of watching the bees. Of noticing how

the petals of the azaleas strain upward
to right themselves after the bees

have finished with them. Tired
of the questions that repeat themselves

like the fat predictable moon, and the doubt
that manages, no matter what the truth is,

to never run out.


Andrea Hollander

Arts & Letters

Spring 2013


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