Sandra Kolankiewicz ~ Three Poems

LiLi Fre on Tears

She doesn’t care the man she turned down for
being so self absorbed is now famous.
What she remem­bers is he brought himself
to tears, think­ing if he cried, she’d give in.
He chased her hair and ass and the little
scar above her upper lip from a dog
bite. Because she resist­ed, he wanted
to win. He even came to spend the night
after she mar­ried, said he was passing
through, need­ed some­where to stay, just to see
for him­self what she’d become, do the kind
of judg­ing he always did everywhere
he went. He’d fall in love, she says, just to
get a script from it. Alone and glad, she has
some friends, is what you might call
‘old,’ though oth­ers would name her ‘young.’ I think
I’ve failed at as much as I’ve suc­ceed­ed, she
says. Sometimes when they cried, I believed them.


To Compete With the Swallows

Everything got lost in the effort of
seek­ing, which near­ly was find­ing unless
one under­stands the need to undermine
a journey.
                   Watching her die changed him; left
for no oth­er rea­son than chance, he feels
                   Joy has a smell as foreign
as laugh­ter in a morgue, not what he pulls
in his wake, or what reach­es the room as
he arrives, cool as a slab.
                                            Palm readers
say his vibration’s so low they don’t want
to take his hand, think he’ll drag them down with
him, so con­cen­trat­ed on the reason,
that tight focus sup­posed to explain the
                  Meanwhile our neigh­bors have a son buried
in Memorial Park beneath a rare
tree their friends gave them, gone before they met
him, the pur­pos­ing for car­ry­ing him not
enough to guar­an­tee the end.
                                                     They walk
to their car with heads down but for dusk,
when they pause to watch the bats emerging
from chim­neys to com­pete with the swallows.


A Box of Shells

After we become
what we nev­er want­ed to
be, the only solu­tion is to peel.
In sea­sons over­ly wet,
the rivers under our skin flood,
need to be dealt with,
addressed, acknowledged,
for the drought is always
com­ing and the ever damp
cre­ates its own problems.
Shrinking after swelling’s the
best time to shed. Be the
snake that both repuls­es and
makes you afraid. Find two
saplings to pin your­self between
and pull your­self through, two
branch­es where you can fit
to find the right pres­sure, or use
oth­er objects to assist you in the scrape,
such as a per­son and an institution,
two friends or ene­mies, lovers,
what­ev­er roles you need to slip
among and amid, reju­ve­nate through
giv­ing up a lay­er of your out­er self.
We had a box of shells we’d classify
and trade in the base­ment playroom,
one rainy day found a rat­tler skin
and rat­tle among the cockles,
limpets, clams, and rock oysters.


Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have appeared wide­ly, most recent­ly in Blue Mountain Review and SoFloPoJo.