- The Garden’s Name
Rain. During the night, the roof next door becomes a shallow pool. The dream I can't remember nags like the splinter of mulch under my fingernail. It's raining still, gently. The sky is moving fast, a screen things happen on, the air is oddly clear. Why hasn't the creek spilled into Water Street, the river risen to its banks? Enough sleep, dream, never enough waking. A recurring sense that after this, it will be different, I will be free, organized, healthy. . . . After tomorrow's meeting, after spring cleaning, after. . . . Yesterday we planted a sourwood tree, an oak-leaf hydrangea. The garden's name is change. Yesterday a bird I'd never seen before in the yard, a flash of gold in the mulberry, a pair of hummingbirds at the butterfly bush. Never enough power in the body, the cells of the brain to see, hear, smell, taste, listen, begin to know. The birds the rabbits the squirrels chipmunks worms grubs caterpillars spiders bees flies mosquitoes ants borers mites aphids teeming life I know so little. It begins to rain again, the mist deciding suddenly, precipitously, to fall not hang motionless in air. Decision of a moment, for a moment. I'm waiting for something. Not now, today, this morning—for weeks, months. Waiting to learn what's changing, how I am changing, how I have changed. In the wet garden the first hot [End Page 131] hibiscus has opened into flagrant blossom: paper thin, veined, enormous, scarlet.
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.