Sandra Kolankiewicz ~ Four Poems

Like a Tranquil Island

Of course I ran out of time, just barely
begun before I had to board, right as
I dis­cov­ered at last the best part of
the city, the place where the artists were
thriv­ing, paint­ing their win­dow frames purple,
using five col­ors to coat one house, the
way I always imag­ined we would be
liv­ing before a bus became a
metaphor for what was car­ry­ing us
away from our­selves and a place which would
quick­ly be behind us like a tranquil
island to which we would be unable
to return, an image I can see now
when I exam­ine my palm, signs once just
begin­ning to reveal them­selves but in
need of my deci­sions to come to the
sur­face: a string of small ovals in
a row, or a chain made from a series of
infin­i­ty sym­bols strung together
on my life­line from now until it splits
and diverges toward each of my small wrist
bones, no where to go, hand hav­ing ended.

Even the Long List

Now that the gar­den is fad­ing, I turn
to you, in great need of upkeep, what will
stay or go, whether the small shirts in your
clos­et will be culled, the bald tires on the
wall in the garage tak­en down and hauled
to the recy­cling cen­ter. Even the
dog can’t stop shed­ding what in the winter
he need­ed but what now, a month from fall
equinox, makes him itch and the fleas fat
on my ankles as soon as I’m down the
stairs at dawn, hav­ing wok­en earlier
than usu­al to find the house quiet
as ever, the dark­ness feel­ing sweet and
safe, even the long list of the day’s chores
on my table kind, for they make sleep possible.

I Left Their House

I left their house when there was still so much
do to, not only for myself but them.
You can’t stay for­ev­er, wind chimes sound just
when the wind is blow­ing and so going
some­where, it’s nature to be visible
only when the leaves rise and flags flap their
announce­ments, cel­e­bra­tions, location
indi­ca­tors. We accom­plish a lot
as long as we know all effort will come
to noth­ing, that gar­den of mine one day
to become again a gath­er­ing of
lit­tle mounds and hillocks no one recalls
until, lat­er, dig­ging with a spade, some
soul finds some­thing I once lost and looked for.
She will place it on a shelf, tell her friends
about it, point out in the hall­way where she
heard a piano once stood. But that’s the
future. I have stayed four days. They are in
their 90’s and need plen­ty to be done
though all I man­aged was miniature
chick­en pot pies, eight small con­tain­ers of
spaghet­ti sauce while I also meant to
make sev­er­al loaves. I have stacked towels
and lined up pill bot­tles to emp­ty them
selves. I hung four paint­ings, then went to the
gro­cery for a two-pronged adaptor
plug, which had stymied their television
for two months. Today on my eight hour drive
I will think of all I should have done as
well, espe­cial­ly if I get lost on
my way home because I am regretting
how soon that poke weed I left by the front
door will sig­nal no one’s home who cares.

Sour Mango

I keep try­ing. Sometimes to stop is wiser,
to let go of the night, the day, rise above
the down below, for­get it all, even
what you can’t remem­ber. I was near­ly ten
before I peeled a man­go, per­fect­ly ripe,
prov­ing what they had told me: the only way
to eat a man­go is to suck it, a time
I have tried to repeat with every mango
since then and all I will eat in the future.
Seed and water, sun and air, the rich­ness of
the dirt are not as impor­tant as timing.


Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have appeared wide­ly over the past thir­ty-five years, start­ing out with Mississippi Review in 1980 and most recent­ly here, at New World Writing.  She teach­es devel­op­men­tal English in West Virginia.