Refusal – Sandra Kohler

Last night I walked into a screen door,
the day’s final injury, insult: the undone
garden clamoring, a friend’s unexpected
demand, someone else’s good fortune rubbing
my dog’s nose into a manger mess of envy,
disheartenment. How I disliked myself:
aggrieved, withholding, an imposter Queen
without grace or honesty. The porch at six
is still cool, foggy, misted. A small swarm
of blackbirds flies from tree to tree down
near the alley, a swirl, whorl of them. What
wakes with me to day is more questionable
than anger’s open and shut case, shutters.
Walking into the screen door was emblem:
I’m barred by something I don’t see, stymied
by a failure of perception. Driving last night’s
back roads, I saw the white lacework of
mountain laurel through the distorted lens
of irritation, impatience. I need to strain
what’s obdurate, recalcitrant out of me,
become fluid and volatile as air. We are
put through fine sieves, graded, measured,
sorted. In morning light, the world is right
and hard as new minted coin. Yesterday I
didn’t want to be asked for a finger. Now
my hands announce that when they have
worked their bones out of the flesh, they’ll
turn to knitting lace gloves for the six,
eight, ten, twenty stone arms of Durga,
a goddess refracted into multiplicity
that answers our cravings, insatiable,
impossible, contradictory.
SKohlerSandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, appeared in May, 2011 from Word Press. Her second collection, The Ceremonies of Longing, winner of the 2002 AWP Award Series in Poetry, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in November, 2003. An earlier volume, The Country of Women, was published in 1995 by Calyx Books. Her poems have appeared over the past thirty-five years in journals including Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, Beloit Poetry Journal, APR, Slant, The Missouri Review, The Gettysburg Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Colorado Review.