On the sidewalk across the street from the rundown house
which is my temporary home, though temporary has been
too long, feels eternal, there are brilliant strokes of color
this morning: fallen gladioli, coral, yellow spikes, remnants
of what was my garden before fire almost destroyed house,
garden, our life there thirteen months ago. I walk over to see
what I can rescue from the current carnage, cut gladioli, then
find balloon flower’s blue blossoms opening, cut some. In
what was once my granddaughter’s garden – vegetables,
strawberries, sunflowers – rose of sharon have sprung up,
volunteers with blossoms more prolific, colorful than those
of the white bush they’ve come from. In the backyard shade
bed, our old tree hydrangea, which seemed near death a year
ago, has come to life, lushly flowering on gnarled limbs.
What can I say, what can I do, what can I learn from these
unexpected blossomings? I bring the gladioli, balloon flowers
I’ve cut back to where I’m living, arrange them in a vase,
place it on a round table I want to throw away, in a room
full of castaways and new possibilities, like my life today.
Sandra Kohler has published three collections of poems: Improbable Music (Word Press, 2011), The Ceremonies of Longing (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), and The Country of Women (Calyx Books, 1995). Her poems have appeared over the past forty-five years in numerous journals, including Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, Beloit Poetry Journal, Slant, The Gettysburg Review, and Tar River Poetry. In 2018, one of her poems was chosen to be part of Jenny Holzer’s permanent installation at the Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia.