2 poems — Sandra Kohler

MINDFUL

Tuesday. Gray Tuesday. The day of which one
must be mindful is always Tuesday, a day of no
particular meaning, its minimal taste offered,
water to the tongue, like the drink you take
waking at four, absently, half asleep, voiding,
then reaching for the faucet, cup, filling again.

In a dream near dawn, I have spilled hot grease
all over the wooden floor of my aunt’s old kitchen.
I’m trying to wipe it up, put the furniture back
where it belongs. After, I toss, spin, living again
night’s turns, openings. Where do these worlds,
dense, freighted with their histories, come from?

Tuesday’s light is as infused with darkness as
waking at four is with sleep. Outside, the willow
branches glisten in cages of frozen rain. Do I hear
the baby’s cry upstairs? His face changes each
day. He is becoming a Buddha, round-faced,
his head big for his body. The Audubon almanac

says purple finch start their spring songs this
week, it’s just a week until the full snow moon,
maple sap is starting to rise. Has the dwarf maple
extruded icy sap at the tip of twigs? Last night
the moon was a crescent, ice-sharp, the sky,
purple as finches, not quite dark around it.

***

PATTERN

Looking from my bed into the mirror
above the dresser opposite me, I see a log
cabin quilt hanging behind me, an Amish
wall hanging, also log cabin, bordering
the mirror, its colors more brilliant than
the quilt’s. If there were a mirror behind me,
I’d see an infinite regression of this pattern.
I imagine my son reaching his forties, his
children their teens, losing his parents, aging:
the old pattern unrolling. What’s the point,
I wonder, as if a Buddhist, it’s all maya.

November, winter approaching. Time to
cut back perennials, mulch, to plant spring
bulbs, make soup, put up provisions for
a cold barren season. I’m not a Buddhist.
What I make of time, of the death implicit
in my life is free, self-sown. The amaryllis
I started has one blossom open, one pursing
its lips before taking a breath and opening,
two still clenched buds. In my garden, roses
I had never tried to grow before bloom, shell
pink, coral, crimson, cream. The future I
once imagined of grandchildren and roses
is here. I’m touched by thorns and petals.
My new grandson’s cheek has a texture
unlike any other: ethereal silk, unearthly.
Cold and barren, I know joy, energy.

***

Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, was published in May, 2011 by Word Press. Her second collection, The Ceremonies of Longing, winner of the 2002 AWP Award Series in Poetry, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in November, 2003. An earlier volume, The Country of Women, was published in 1995 by Calyx Books. Her poems have appeared over the past thirty-five years in journals including The Southern Review, APR, The Gettysburg Review, Slant, Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Missouri Review, and The Colorado Review.