Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

What I Didn't Know
by Linda Laderman

After Waving Goodbye, by Gerald Stern

I wanted to know what our lives were like before you died

and before she let our grass grow wild with weeds, and before

I could comprehend what it meant to find where you began—

why she needed me to carry the melody for her solo performance,

so I looked for light to lead me down to where she buried your books,

volume after volume stacked with stories of how things were,

and found what she stored in the corner against the cold brick,

shoved under old rakes, brooms—six embossed leather scrapbooks,

with your initials stamped on the cover, a trove from the past waiting,

and offering me a choice to open what was there or turn away

from what I didn’t know—I didn’t know, like the neighbor who said

you can’t miss what you never had, the people who looked on us

with pity, the widow and the fatherless child, the shopkeeper who said

he was a mensch if I ever knew one—if that’s all you know, you know enough.

About the Author

Linda Laderman lives near Detroit, where, for many years, she was a docent at the Zekelman Holocaust Center. A poet and writer, her work has appeared in The Jewish Literary Journal, The Jewish Writing Project, One Art, and The Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan, among others. More at lindaladerman.com