About Laura Gross Smith


Poems by Sandra Kohler, 61′

Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (Word Press) appeared in May, 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared in journals over the past 35 years. Born in New York City in 1940, Kohler attended public schools there, Mount Holyoke College (A.B., 1961) and Bryn Mawr College (A.M., 1966 and Ph.D., 1971). She’s taught literature and writing in venues ranging from elementary school to university. A resident of Pennsylvania for most of her adult life, she moved to Boston in 2007.


There’s a parrot named Felicity in
the novel I’m reading, so in a dream I give
my sister Midnight and Felicity: the black cat
she owned years ago, when her husband
was still alive, the scarlet parrot
she’d never dream of owning.
I don’t know if she dreams
about happiness now. Perhaps I’m
the sister who cannot imagine
owning Felicity. The bird of
happiness not blue but scarlet.
Real happiness is like that,
startling as a parrot’s
sudden cry.

Life Interrupts Life

The porch at seven, still, the air barely astir.
There’s a new rose blooming: April Moon?
Hawkeye Belle? The belle, pale pink, ablush.
When this garden’s made, I will have a walled
garden, hortus conclusus. To wall is to end:
conclude. The pale sky billows, foamy cloud.
A cry that could be cat or bird. Life interrupts
life. A fat fly lands on the chair opposite mine.
Out here he’s in his element, legitimate; indoors
I’d kill him. I need to start imagining this yard
as walled garden. What time will we need to
leave for the airport? Life interrupts life ….
Decisions, hesitations, progress and regression,
arrivals and departure. Language carries me,
whether I will or no. I will. Yesterday at the
Neponset River reservation we watch swallows
bring food to a nest in the concrete overpass,
taking it in turns. Here, now, it’s my turn:
dribbling, bouncing a ball of thought, making
small moves, practice for the game. The game’s
afoot. How shall I play it? The possibilities
are not endless. Body, soul, day: tell me what
to do. No answer: the body’s ambivalent,
the soul ambiguous. The day is indifferent:
sunlight blooms a moment on my neighbor’s
garage wall, fades. The birds keep chanting.



One If By – Elizabeth R. Smith ’92

Elizabeth R. Smith, class of 1992


In Boston today I saw

The same pilgrims’ feet treading cow paths                                                                           On  their way to the sea
Shining on a spring day
Shod in shouts of well-wishers
Destination new world
In Boston today I saw

The same reports of smoke coming from the square
Heads turning in curiosity, confusion, horror
A boy dropping his ice cream cone
A girl falling among white blossoms
A woman raising blue eyes to the same sky
In Boston today I saw

The same calloused hands that harvested land and
Heaved ropes on whaling boats
Pulling strangers from the fire
Pressing an open wound
Pinching an artery closed

In Boston today I saw

The same physician’s eye traversing a body
Assessing mortality, calculating distance
Her runner’s apron cradling a curly head
While battle cries form around her

In Boston today I saw

The same shelter-in-place
As the night the Regulars were out
Brownstone doors flung wide to welcome
The pounding feet of runners instead of riders
Citizens watchful at their windows
With solemn nods to servants defending civility

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Poetry: The Stimson Room

Adeline Carrie Koscher ’97 writes poetry and fiction mostly in her sleep and while running or kayaking. Sadly, whole novels have been lost this way. Some of the surviving texts are “Shadows,” a short story included in Altered States Sci-Fi and Fantasy Stories About Change, edited by Amy Locklin, published by Main Street Rag; “Reverie at the Big Y,” a short story published in ninepatch: A Creative Journal for Women and Gender Studies; and poems, “The Ludlow Mills” and “Flotsam,” published in Review Americana. She earned a B.A. in English from MHC, M.Ed. in education from UMASS, and Ph.D. in English with a focus on the New Woman novelist from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She visits the Stimson Room at least once a year.

The Stimson Room, Mount Holyoke College

no choice but to grant her space,
crown her with sky,
~ Rita Dove

Give me the Stimson Room, October afternoon –
iron-rimmed window pushed open,
day’s breath between pages,
marigold sunlight around brick corners –
enter the recesses of the room:

here, I fall in love
with H.D. and Mina Loy, Vincent Millay, Rita Dove,
with words and sound and language;
fall in love with the torn photograph
of women, of these pages, of this room;

escape calculus, politics, reason;
slip from consciousness – meet her,
crown her with sky, for she is one of the many,
and she is each of us, seeking not
bowed-head, demur smile, vacant eye –

I wake, I read, I nod, I am born.