Andrea Hollander


As my husband set the table for breakfast,

I stood at the kitchen counter in my pink chenille bathrobe,

its pockets worn through, waiting for the toast to rise,

and realized that this, too, I would lose—

this moment so routine

it would soon disappear into the daily machine of our lives

like the beautiful pebble I dropped on the beach

and moments later couldn’t find.

As good as it was to be home in this good house

with my husband humming something familiar,

the tea already steeping, the juice poured, even the butter

waiting in its porcelain plate on the table,

there was nothing I would remember it by, and I knew it.

If the phone had rung with bad news about my father

even the way the sun angled onto the rug would have brought

the bad news back again each time,

and I could never have worn the bathrobe again.

Is this why Anne Frank’s diary matters?

At another place, another time,

the life of a thirteen-year-old girl would have disappeared

into a box in the upstairs closet,

a few pages of it read, perhaps, by her grown-up son, and then

because he had to drive his daughter to school

and pick up the paper on the way, he would have closed it,

promising himself to someday read the rest, then whistled

down the stairs in his herringbone vest and jacket

to where his daughter waited in the sunlit hall.

from The Other Life (Story Line Press, 2001)

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