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.
Arts & Letters