Sandra Kolankiewicz

Two Poems


Pausing in the Trenches

Who would have thought sky stronger than ground, maker
of wind, cov­er to the seas? For hours we dug
with­out look­ing up, for­get­ting that fifty
per­cent of our life hap­pens above, beyond,
out­side of any known bound­ary except
for atmos­phere. Still the only star I know
is North as if help­ful in navigating
beyond the earth. What would we try then, afloat
and free? Sextants use­less with­out longitude,
the lat­i­tude that once obsessed us become
irrel­e­vant, noth­ing on which to gauge our
progress or place. Certainly a fig­ure with
a long white beard put us here, you say, ignored
by the rest of us with our shov­els, the first
to pause and glance up, away from the mud and
rock beneath our wet boots into indigo
with a gauze of mack­er­el skin laid over
it like a tis­sue meant to pro­tect us from
too much beau­ty, which can­not be born, just as
one is not sup­posed to see the face of God.


Two ways to approach the unknown:
with a tick­le of antic­i­pa­tion or a wave
of dread, as if stand­ing on the shore as the
boat final­ly arrives when you’re real­ly on
the back step, smok­ing a cig­a­rette, hearing
the sirens rise above the yard’s only tree, higher
than the doves, usu­al­ly the only sound this
time of evening, the water in your head flat
and calm as right before a storm, the waves
behind your eyes keep­ing their promis­es, the
alarms out­side in the air, theirs. Behind the
fence, you will hold the good in your arms today,
for­get the stut­ter­ing between hope and despair on
the street while you con­cen­trate on the mango
tree by the swing set, its fruit just appearing.


Sandra Kolankiewicz has pub­lished near­ly 200 poems and sto­ries in reviews, most recent­ly in BlazeVox, Gargoyle, Fifth Wednesday, Prick of the Spindle, Per Contra, Prairie Schooner, Appalachian Heritage, and Pif. Turning Inside Out won the Black River Prize at Black Lawrence Press. Blue Eyes Don’t Cry won the Hackney Award for the Novel. This fall, Finishing Line Press pub­lished her chap­book enti­tled The Way You Will Go. A nov­el with 76 illus­tra­tions, After I Fell, is soon to be released by Web-e-Books. She lives with her fam­i­ly in Marietta, Ohio, and teach­es at a com­mu­ni­ty col­lege in West Virginia.