Sandra Kohler







The cold earth turns to a cold green sky.
The sun is going to rise.  The horizonís
blue and green with awe.  In minutes I will
go into this clarity to breathe it, and that
wonít change it, or will, or both.  This is a day
for taking anguish for a walk, for letting
the dogs run and the thin boys take in air
through their bones.  We are coming to
the haunted season, saints, the long nights,
hallowed, heavy as a spade. Turning the earth
over will not bury anything.


My dream is nineteenth centuryó
a young gentlemanly monster:  throat-
slitting, flesh-carving.  He is caught and
I wake to the desire for hands on my flanks,
my thighs.  I turn away the way a man does
from the caress of a woman he loves
because he cannot love her as he imagines.
I try to live in the mornings but evenings
are invitation and night opens its arms,
a lover, telling me Iím older
than woman, earlier.


Though the October light
is soft as April, though there is no wind
and the evergreens drift in its absence,
I leave the curtains drawn:  there is
something radiant I donít want to see,
something demanding as the self
that wants me to see it.
Green, green mottled with crimson,
crimson, brown.  Leaves which have not
turned are falling, leaves which have
partly, leaves which have.

Perhaps the hour that marks us is not
birth, but conception.  How different June
from March, November from August.
The dregs and stales of prophecy.
The mind witches the body.  As if
a tree had a branch that sang to itself,
a song that made it put out leaves.


Your letter on plain, thick paper:
the snake dance, old jealousy, the olive
colors of grief.  You canít escape
the company of an old woman; the girl
you hate walks away with your man.  Lover,
murderer:  the part of us that wants to own.
The other wants the truth passion reveals:
discovery, betrayal.  What I meant to say
was about your letter, how it seems
full of different lights, yet holds them
all.  The light at the window is a white
sea, rising.  Breaking, it enters the room.


Mahlerís third crescendoes to its repeated
endings.  In my head, girls at a dance,
eleven, twelve, thirteen years old, some
tall as women, others diminutive,
some straight, some curved as a prow,
a slice carved from a melon.  The music
leaps up incongruous and lovely,
a monument.  It is enough to carry me
anywhere.  Outside, the wooden porch
shines like ice, a gleaming mask
on the face of the ordinary planks:
the hunterís moon, ripe, glowing.

Copyright © 2004 Sandra Kohler.  All Rights Reserved.

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