Sandra Kohler


          THE QUEEN


She is the rightful queen who hardly

knows she has become the kingís prisoner:

she is so powerful still. Yet there is

a tinge of futility in the air she moves in,

heavy as water.  She learns to sew and each

of the garments she seams is smaller

than the last.  The bread she kneads and

bakes is finer and higher each month;

she works it longer, harder, achieving

an elasticity that shines, silk

beneath her hands.  She has given

up longing like a childís game.

Sweating sadness, she cultivates

her garden, salting the earth

with a desperation she is not

aware of.  Beyond the hedge,

there is only fog.



There is the spider of jealousy with its green sheen

under the black encasement, a jewelled amulet.

There is the spotted spider of envy:  its back

stippled with black holes of insatiable desires.

There is the spider of resentment:  corrosive,

burning, it eats and cannot consume its hunger.

There is the spider of poisonous longings, tainting

every surface it touches with a foul sweetness, carrion

coating that clings like honey to the tongue.



You ate me up and spit me out.

Now you store all the virtues of my

body in yours; you have taken possession

of my secrets for your success; cast me as

exile in my own realm.  You sew, you bake,

you cultivate my garden, while I sit on a bench,

paralyzed by your sting, your poison coursing

the vein of my freedom, my mindís workings.

You are ultimate censor, whose power

bars me from uttering a word.



Who owns the darkness, rain,

the fogís drift at dawn?  No one

asks what belongs to them, only

what can be possessed.


Once I owned myself, living

between choices.  I sat in a velvet chair and

summoned the dead, surrounded myself

with spirits, brooding ancestral clouds.


What would I do without water to hold

the sky, birdflight that opens distance,

morning fires burning to tell me how

hungry everything is that loves?



She lies on the hard bed,

her bodyís planes disposed

as if for the caress

of a random hand.


Nothing measures her long waiting,

her gasp at a straw.  Nothing but the body:

continent adrift, its shifts, the last

rale of its telling.

Copyright © 2003 Sandra Kohler.  All Rights Reserved.

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