Stew, a poem by Sandra Kohler ’61

Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music (Word Press), was published in 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 numerous journals over the past 35 years. Born in New York City in 1940, Sandra attended public schools there, before matriculating at Mount Holyoke. She then went on to earn her masters and Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College. Sandra’s taught literature and writing in venues ranging from elementary school to university. She lives in Massachusetts.

The first of March, snow falling like rain,
straight, heavy, insistent. My dreams were
densely plotted, thick with incident I can’t

remember. My life is thick with something
other than incident: a stew of memory, fear,
longing, unfinished business, unrealized

intention. Will it snow all morning? My head’s
awhirl with the five women I met yesterday,
their husbands, daughters, sons, people we

each carry with us, willing or not: a world of
connections we’re born into, choose, birth.
Here, in mine, someone stirs: who’s up and

why? March snow is still falling. Should I
shovel before it stops, will a broom shift it,
should I serve asparagus before stew, is there
enough stew? I’m who made the stew I’m in.


Mountain Day: How about a few “mountain moments”?


Perhaps, like me, your email and facebook lit up this morning with the exciting news: it is Mountain Day at Mt. Holyoke! Do you remember the bells ringing, the happy buzz in the hallways of your dorm that yes, indeed, classes were cancelled? I had a message follow soon after the announcement from an MHC alum to two of us asking, “Why does this seem to mean more to me now than it did then?” And, I had to agree. When I was a student, the excitement was about no classes, hanging out and I hadn’t yet achieved the maturity to understand that unplanned time, particularly spent in nature or at some “useless” activity would be refreshing for body and spirit.

“Summit achieved by at least 100 students in first wave. Pres. Pasquerella greets climbers.” (From Alumnae Assoc. page on Facebook)

So, if you are living in the United States and possibly suffering from the drive to do, do, do constantly, can you carve a few Mountain Day minutes for yourself? If you don’t have time for a walk — or if the demands of work and children make that impossible — can you take a few minutes and reflect? Maybe write a paragraph about a Mountain Day memory, or if you could do a Mountain Day over again, what would you do differently? Sometimes, it is in moments of relaxation that we creative types receive insights — a solution to a block, a new idea, a change of direction for a character, etc.

May you breathe deeply and be good to yourself today. I think Mary Lyon would approve. Let us all know if you have success with giving yourself a mini-Mountain Day. 🙂