There are many things I do not know.
I do not know my mother’s favorite color.
I could not tell you her favorite food, or the name of her
favorite dog as a child. I do not know
which subjects she excelled in, but hated,
or the classes with which she struggled, but loved.
I do not know the name of her favorite teacher,
or what she did for fun in college. I do not know which books she read
spoke into her soul and shaped her very existence,
which authors penned words that she devoured time
and time again;
I do not know which stories buried into her heart and made her
laugh and cry and grow.
I could not tell you if she broke her arm trying to fly
off the roof, or falling out of a tree, or if she twisted her ankle
playing basketball after school or running
that one time she did cross country.
I do not know if she lost her favorite earrings after prom, or
ruined her favorite shoes running through the rain or ran a red light
because she was late to a meeting or if she cried
on her wedding day.
Here is what I do know.
I know the way
her voice cracks when someone
does something to show how much they love her.
I know the way she held me tight whenever I was sick,
the way she let me skip writing and only do math that time I fell
off my bike and skinned my elbows so badly
I could barely move my pencil across the page.
I know that she loves hymns, loves the fourth and fifth verses of
Amazing Grace—the ones we never sing. I know that her mouth
quirks a little more when she sings those lines from Crown Him With Many Crowns,
the ones with phrases like potentate of time and creator of the rolling spheres,
I know she reads. I know she writes.
I know she has hung a black and white picture of Bob Dylan on
our wall of old family photos, and I know
she laughs when people notice.
I know she lives selflessly. I know she paints rooms
efficiently and effectively. I know she makes meals for friends
and drives them places—even if that place is the airport
and she is tired
and it is early, early morning.
I know that sometimes she likes
a small taste—just the one—of cookie dough
before it comes together, when it is simply butter
I know she taught me physics by helping me to make
a spud gun
from a plastic pen
and letting me shoot potato pieces across the driveway
to mark trajectories and track their falls.
I know she challenged me to read,
to read much and to read well—and I know she taught me how
to write, as much as I hated it at the time.
I know she drove hours out of her way—more than once—
just so I could spend time with my best friend.
I know she knows me better than I know myself at times,
I know she loves me well,
and I know I can ask her
I know that she will always, always make a space for me.
There are many things I do not know,
but her favorite colors are coral and teal.