Raphael Kosek ~ Three Poems

Harmless Encounters

I dreamt fat flakes of snow
falling thick­ly in summer.
I dreamt I wore a bridal gown
while clean­ing the house
as the guests arrived.
I dreamt I kissed an old friend
long dead, on the lips
and felt nothing.

I turn and turn in this world
that rings in my ears
and claims me with its faraway
words, scat­tered,
half heard
in a field blond with sun,
bleary with birdsong.

Among the leaves shimmying
in a scant breeze
against an immor­tal blue,
some­thing feels so
famil­iar, I almost call out
“I know you!
I am here!”
but it skit­ters away
like a fish,
pre­cise and fleet
through the current
of the hours
and I am once again
only myself.


Mother Wolf

All my life, Mother, I have been falling
out of your sav­age arms. Now
as you’re dying, your ferocious
embrace that near­ly drowned me
is loos­ing its grip
and blue sky peeks above
with its qui­et clouds moving.

Did you know, Mother, I once
shot you in a dream to wake
horrified—how your
good inten­tions near­ly choked off
my air until I could barely
love the world tilt­ing towards me
with its green arms.

Mother, you have made me wretched,
nev­er con­tent with what I could
do for you with your boil­ing bitterness—
your edict: Don’t trust anyone!—
and you didn’t. You said

I love you. You said, I will haunt you
when I die. You said, Dog’s
blood! (a Polish curse), Get me out
of here! Every night
while you died, you were on a plane,
a train, a car­riage, a bus, and wor­ried where
you would get off. Not here,
not yet. Every night I said I love you
and you let me go to sleep. You were so
vul­ner­a­ble, I began to see you
human, and I could love you
clear­ly, purely,
with­out guilt, the back­wash of never
being right, nev­er being enough.

Like the wasp, you lost your sting,
your talons grew soft, your face, tender,
and I could see you, uneasy,
trou­bled, try­ing to leave
this world, the only one you knew,
for the next. I could say I love you
and real­ly mean it
as if I had dropped my skin
because you were shed­ding yours
and you were much less and much more
than you had ever been,
your face clear and shining—
bared human­i­ty bereft of any needs
or wants.
And you went, Mother,
one breath, then anoth­er, then noth­ing more
to do here.


How the Lake and the Sky

Because I feel some­thing com­ing toward me
like the sway of water entering
Because I walk the shore of a green lake
Because in my dream, care­less of wetting
my shoes
Because I wade bare­foot in the blue-green
waters of this lake knee-deep in anoth­er dream
Because the sand of the lake is velvet
under my feet and gives just enough
Because around the bend
Because the sand turns to smooth pearled pebbles
catch­ing the light
Because when the sun rises
Because it throws rose gold on the tips
of dark­ling east­ern pines
Because that show­er of light speaks sacred
Because if you lift your eyes
Because blue pulls every­thing to it
Because it is both vast and intimate—
a Great? a small sea?
Because it takes me into account with its
inces­sant lapping
Because I’ve nev­er seen this lake before
Because I know it is mine not to own
Because its water is lit from within
under unquench­able sky
Because the light in the sky,
soft and clear
Because who could believe apocalypse?


Raphael Kosek’s poems and non­fic­tion have appeared in Poetry East, Catamaran, and many oth­er jour­nals. Her chap­book, ROUGH GRACE, won the 2014 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Prize. AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY ( 2019) was recent­ly released from Brick Road Poetry Press. She teach­es American lit at Marist College and Dutchess Community College where her stu­dents keep her real. She is the 2019–2020 Dutchess County, NY Poet Laureate. www.raphaelkosek.com