All That’s Known
My mother fallen, hip cracked, now replaced,
sits slumped in the hospital chair,
where the nurse and aide have plunked her
like a half-filled bag of laundry
no one’s hurrying to reach and make clean.
She seems to wait for nothing
and not to be able to say,
she who would talk to the wall I was
till she was blue in the face.
But what’s unsaid makes a life—
and this late hour I’m finally ready to hear:
Tears instead, despite her effort to stanch them,
she who once proclaimed the ice water in those veins,
and though the color’s drained from her glacier-face
what flows away is proof
that everything I’ve heard her say
about herself is wrong.
All that’s known of anyone is tiny,
an iceberg perched and dancing on the sea,
compared to what sits brooding far below
secret and unfathomable.
by Alan Walowitz
Editor’s Note: The emotional center of this poem pivots around this line, “…what’s unsaid makes a life”, while careful line breaks carry the reader along the current of the narrator’s realization.