Sandra Kohler’s poetry has been appearing in print for at least 35 years, in publications such as The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, The Gettysburg Review and The Colorado Review. Her most recent book, Improbable Music, was published by Word Tech Communications in 2011. A previous book, The Ceremonies of Longing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003) won the AWP Award Series in Poetry. In 1985 and 1990, she was the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship in Poetry awarded by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In between writing poetry and raising her son, she taught literature and writing everywhere from elementary school to college.
Waking, I hear a bird beating at the window
under the mulberry: black bird, black window,
black tree. It’s grey and thick and breathless,
but dry. I’ll walk, my husband will play tennis.
We will do what we do, enact the day our
calendar disposes. A flash of wings: a blue jay
in the mulberry. These days wings moving
through the garden’s green are usually gold –
gold finch, orioles? My husband walks down
to the garage, carrying the chair he rests in
between sets. We rub and fray a little, we rub
and caress. A dove is cooing somewhere close.
The garden waits. Is it dry enough to weed
the cutting bed? It feels as if summer is over.
It feels as if I am testing a new way of being,
some weight I’m learning to carry, restraints
I am learning to wear. The garments of old
women, the thickness around the waist,
deepening folds of the face, loosening skin.
A different grip on the real, the world, new
expectations. Do I believe a word of this?
A cardinal flies out of the mulberry, across
the roof next door. I imagine and don’t
see his red reflection in the roof pond.