Poetry: Jenn Blair
All I Wanted to Know
was that the old VFW Hall was near the lighthouse.
I looked in the window by myself one early morning,
stray cats leaping at my feet, focusing on the bright
light hitting the wooden rafters, determined we
could cover up the bingo board. And then,
actually standing inside it the day before,
I started crying, at the stains on the grey carpet, soldiers
from the Great War frozen in the trenches upon the wall,
your Mother (not usually given over to clairvoyance)
saying she could feel the pain in that place.
So we married on the porch of the beach house instead
despite the rental instructions expressly forbidding it,
me nervously holding a bouquet of roses your father
fashioned from a grocery store cooling case, tied
together with ribbon from Melissa, borrowing
the words of others, even words from our better
and best selves to promise what only the foolish
and wise sometimes do: that when we are past
this hour and done with all sentiment, we will
return—two sullen strangers standing at the edge
of this evening listening to the talk and laughter of
those we love, incredulously watching ourselves
turn to say one last goodnight before heading up
the stairs in search of our daughter.
The last curve of road before the wooden gate
where firewood blooms. Faint strains of music.
Forgiveness growing in the ashes of argument.
The one right word, gleaming. The deep blue
throat of the gold rimmed china cup. And I,
I who have been witness to dull sorrow,
but also privileged to the heart’s inexplicable
lifting, say a hundred times a day, let it rise.