Sandra Kolankiewicz ~ Three Poems

Day of the Dead

We know by now you could still call, tap that
low land­line volt­age to let us know we
can let go of you, lay you in that basket
of rush­es that floats away in our minds,
finds you liv­ing with a pharaoh until
you return to lead us through the desert
and receive your dry com­mand­ments, what all
patri­archs do. Surely where you are you
see a way to let us know you arrived
and are there yet beyond the veil, bumping
in the night, coins drop­ping from another
world and ring­ing off the table, the lights
flick­er­ing on with­out switch, dark thumps, a
deep sigh that fills the house first with the sound and
then the absence of exha­la­tion, as
I search for you under the stairs when they
are creak­ing, after I’ve splin­tered into
parts that act inde­pen­dent­ly yet make
up the whole, each of them look­ing, looking
for you, seek­ing still. What are the rules of
dis­en­gage­ment and sep­a­ra­tion in
the next dimen­sion, when a dot becomes
a line which trans­forms to a box with length,
depth, and height, then steps beyond the space we
think we under­stand, mis­tak­ing little
toe for the entire­ty of body,
like mis­read­ing a begin­ning for an
end, con­fus­ing this cur­rent world with life.


A Bay with New Houses

What we can’t see, hear, and touch doesn’t
exist, wit­ness­es with eyes open,
lis­ten­ers with ears ring­ing so loud
there’s noth­ing else, fin­gers still calloused
after years of inactivity,
even trem­bling some days, obscured
per­cep­tion become the foundation
where we stand if nine­ty per­cent of
what we say’s non­ver­bal, the other
ten per­cent what we mere­ly voice, a
mutu­al fire­work descending
into ash. I look across a bay
with new hous­es, the egrets rising,
or are they juve­nile blue heron,
my heart beat­ing like a bell as the
sky lights a lone cir­rus stretched across
the hori­zon like the rem­nants of a
dream. The deck was once new, now starting
to rot, what­ev­er arsenic in
our treat­ed wood dripped down into the
soil, leached to some water table we
don’t drink, con­trac­tor due tomorrow
with his com­pos­ite materials.


The Wind Outside Raging

You were to come for din­ner at seven
where I was house sit­ting for a couple
gone to Maine. Instead, you arrived after
mid­night. The can­dles had melt­ed down to
the base of the ceram­ic hold­er and
sput­tered out, the meal cold, but I let you
in. Upstairs, I thought you’d know more about
women, but you took care of your­self, then
fell asleep. I rose and did the dishes,
nev­er went back to the pil­low where you
awoke at dawn to catch a two-day train
to go out West, lost until the next time,
when I was liv­ing in a cab­in in
the woods. After a win­ter storm, I took
you to the caves, our feet squeak­ing in the
hush until you grabbed a stick to thump the
tree trunks we were pass­ing, mak­ing the snow
drop off in sheets, drown­ing out the scolding
blue jay, the invis­i­ble wood pecker
knock­ing away up high, the crow cawing
as he sound­ed the alert, unneeded
because the whole world knew by then you were
in the for­est and did not understand
enough to be qui­et in the presence
of majesty. You had a beard and told
strangers your name was Abraham, said your
moth­er wrote let­ters you nev­er finished.
I did not shave, told strangers lov­ing them
meant noth­ing, both of us with our simple
lies, my stilled tears while you slept in tangled
cov­ers, for­eign to each oth­er even
with a fire and the wind out­side raging.


Most recent­ly, Sandra Kolankiewicz’s work has appeared in Fortnightly Review, Blue Mountain, and Harbinger Asylum.