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  • Countenance
  • Sandra Kohler (bio)

The morning when you don't want to get up sunrise is spectacle: diagonal stratus flaring out from the core where the sun hangs. You find this and know you've been offered what cannot be refused or requested. Day is not enemy or judge, but strict instructor, shaping the lesson your eyes bear. Tested by the white fissures streaking from blue heights to the opened horizon, you focus on the fields' dun expectancy, laid out under this revelatory dispensation. Yesterday's snows are still frozen in your garden alone; everywhere else the earth is naked. What you won't face is a nakedness you can't cover, a truth nothing will countenance. How do we live, how do we turn to life despite life? Slow and pained and awkward, we are the clumsiest animals; how can we flare, become light, signals, ecstatic as the rose-lit clouds? Give these questions air and they grow, invasive plants, weeds, spread, reseed, catch hold in cracks, sprout from jagged crannies. The face of the landscape is fogged, pale, a shimmering of chartreuse, umber, olive, brick red, straw, gold, cedar, slate blue, dirty cream, pewter, pearl, charcoal, earth. Its countenance is mist, muteness, patient and immutable as a painting; a gift in the face of all your misgivings: the beauty of accident.

Sandra Kohler

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.



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