May 2, 2016

Sandra Kohler

AFTER EASTER

At an Easter party yesterday, one friend
says she’s a closet Buddhist. Her husband,
scholar and priest, is in a nursing home
suffering with dementia. He tells a hospice
worker he’s a devil worshipper, murmurs
the Lord’s Prayer under his breath all day.
Another friend says her whole family’s
visiting and she doesn’t know who she is:
daughter sister mother aunt grandmother
wife. What holds these selves together? I
name Jewish roots when I’m asked about
my religion, add I’m a vicarious Buddhist.
When we praise our potluck feast we’re
told by one cook all her recipes come from
Google, her secret is to always enter “easy”
as the first word. What can’t Google do?
Visit the sick, remember the dead, order
the day, cure a single sorrow. Our mind’s
search engines create the mirror we hold
up to the day, compounded of griefs,
unburied dead hopes, walking wounds.
In dreams of reckoning and recognitions,
we return to ancient houses where we
played and suffered as children. The past
is not dead. It is disguised, distorted,
embalmed, enshrined. We gather at
its tomb, in the light of refusal, of held
breath, of waiting for a coming
which does not come.

from Rattle #51, Spring 2016
Tribute to Feminist Poets

[download audio]

__________

Sandra Kohler: “I am 75 years old, and I’ve been writing poems for about 65 of those years. I have written about women’s experiences as female bodies, as lovers, wives, mothers, grandmothers, about their private world; I have written about the public world I live in from what seems to me an inevitably feminist perspective. My earliest poems came out of family life, out of painful experiences of loss, drawing on my emotional life; as my life and work has unfolded I have tried to include a wider world and a wider self in my work. Recently I have found my two grandchildren muses for another kind of poem about personal life.”