Today's poem is by Sandra Kohler


Sunday morning on the porch. Thick moist summer.
At five in the dark the birds sing, a sostenuto of undertone,
a ground. The warm air is awake. The texture shifts, is thickened,
thins out. I am what breathes here; this delicate soup of sound is what
I breathe: the birds, the birds, the birds. Their sweet repetition a celebrant
choir. My birthday is coming and I am filled the way a woman near term,
her body swollen and awkward, feels herself a bursting pod, a flower forced
to open. Where have the Sunday women gone, with their hair rolled, their legs
smooth as round sticks, their voices of chalk? Last night I dreamt of impossible
tasks: addition, frustration. Yes, I say bitterly, yes, I am extraordinarily lucky.
Morning is exquisite, the cool morning of early summer, honeysuckle, white
vinca, the garden I plant and the garden that blooms without my planting.
The new stems of andromeda are shooting pink parasol leaves up
like plumes, triumphant fey adornments of a helmet, cavalier
hat. I am growing like that: slant, askew, rising on
unexpected biases, thrusting diagonals.

I am listening to birdsong, as Shelley did, as Keats did,
as Milton, Shakespeare, Spenser. As Emily Dickinson did, as
Christina Rosetti, Elizabeth Barrett. Did Sapho? Birdsong in poems
is English and romantic. Yesterday's bread is dry, grainy, tough to swallow
but every day the fruit ripens, a peach, its flesh soft, creamy, dripping juices
at your teeth. There will always be something I know and something I don't.
The Sunday women drive up like mourners, they walk under the influence
of green hedges, wearing a perfume I smell from across the street. Doors
open and shut, there was once a dog who would bark at this juncture.
Instead a siren growls, it is one's own heart that lurches and leaps up
like a sleeping dog. All the flowers I've planted come to this:
the heart in the throat at the first moment of blooming,
the engine's roar for departure. I cling to my days,
a burr, a briar, a stubborn weed.

Copyright © 2005 Sandra Kohler All rights reserved
from Diner
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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