Things You Don’t Know
for my mother
I gave my sister her first taste of wine
on the steps of a vineyard
overlooking the Mediterranean.
Lowering sun turned the whole world gold,
except for the white stones of the jetty
where fishers brought home their golden boats.
We toasted our brother, who was not with us,
our dead sister, the sea, and you.
Though you would not have approved,
I think you would forgive us.
The wine was the color of sunlight
and tasted of apples.
The baby ducks we had when I was small,
I hated them.
The one so beautiful: orange, hard candy beak
and smooth white feathers.
The other, the one the bobcat got:
split bill clatter and wheezing quack.
I couldn’t wish one dead
and not the other.
I didn’t bake the pies you asked for Christmas.
I kicked the dog for peeing on the rug.
I told your grandchild there is no such place as heaven.
When Stacey died, I said, “She’s only
sleeping,” what you had taught me
to believe. I didn’t know what else to say.
For you, I tried to have the faith
of a little child. I was a little child
following a script with pages missing.
Did you see what I was doing, making
a story of pieces, more than half of them
borrowed? That was the moment I knew
I would be a doctor. Something like that.
You: kneading bread dough, your hands
covered in flour and yeast, pushing
the hair from your forehead
with the clean back of your wrist.
Of the ten sacred images I carry,
this is one.
You know three of the other nine.
“Things You Don’t Know” appeared in Amy Watkins’ book, Milk and Water, available from Yellow Flag Press. Purchase yours today!
Listen to an audio recording of “Things You Don’t Know” read by the author!
Amy Watkins grew up with the alligators and armadillos in the Central Florida scrub, the oldest child of a nurse and a carpenter. As a kid, she wanted to be an artist, a doctor, a teacher and a contestant on Star Search; she became a writer instead. Her poems and essays have recently appeared in Bigger Than They Appear: Anthology of Very Small Poems, BloodLotus, and Animal: A Beast of a Literary Magazine. She lives in Orlando with her husband and only child, Alice.
This week’s Wardrobe Best Dressed was selected Nicole Oquendo. Nicole Oquendo is an Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications, and the Nonfiction Editor of Best of the Net. Her most recently published essays and poetry can be found in DIAGRAM, fillingStation, Storm Cellar, and Truck.
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