The dark house and the house that is lit, the thin crust of snow on the grass and the black depth of the river, the dark freight of clouds on the horizon and the darker freight of hills beneath them.
I dream of a trip I hadn't meant to take. The house that lay in darkness is lit now, the lit house is dark. Let the light come yellow and rose and green over the blue horizon: an air, a motive for being, undefined but pervasive.
Something has seeped into my blood: stain? Forgiveness? Accused, my confessions match the crime but contradict each other. Parts of my life refuse to cohere, flying off, pulling away from its core.
The life we get used to leading is our addiction: tracks we leave in the snow at places where seed is plentiful and danger slight: flashes of movement beyond the dark glass. How can we separate grief
from fear, bound as we are on these risky journeys, hunting the incongruously beautiful animal selves that live in the coldest parts of our being? Yesterday I knew a thing or two, today [End Page 130]
not even if the dogs of wandering scent distinctions among blades of grass, or whether there's anything worse than the death each of us is handed, that spoonful of black lethe.
Sandra Kohler was born in New York City in 1940. She attended Mount Holyoke College (AB, 1961) and Bryn Mawr College (AM, 1966, and PhD, 1971). From 1969 to 1976 she taught in the English department at Bryn Mawr College. Since then, she has taught literature and writing courses at levels ranging from elementary school to university and adult education. Her work has been widely published in journals such as American Poetry Review, the Colorado Review, the Gettysburg Review, the New Republic, and the Southern Review. Her first collection of poems, The Country of Women, was published in 1995 by Calyx Books. Her second collection, The Ceremonies of Longing, was the winner of the 2002 Associated Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2003.