Two Poems by Sandra Kolankiewicz

Were You to Open the Box

Under ribbon and paper, inside the
square cardboard illusion, gesture is to
present as memory is to past. Were
you to open the box, you would find it
empty, still your favorite gift, for what
you want is to leave it all potential,
air the same as diamond. Void to gem,
breath to stone that must be worked to shine, cut
and tumbled to make rough elements smooth
but is an intervention still that takes
energy and, most important, time. Sky
to cliff scraped for flint at the base, cloud to
fog rising off the river which still flows
north along a bed more ancient than this.


If I can’t see you out my back window,
you don’t exist, less than a trampoline

or three hand-hewn gravestones
for multiple cats and dogs, still green with

algae though years ago we pulled them from
the bank where they’d been dumped after something

was demolished, a part of downtown or
the Victorian farmhouse up the road.

That was before, when we went places. You
are not the gushing pond we dug, lined with

the same brood of rock rescued from its life
as fill along the Ohio, holding

up some cliff that probably is now gone.
Neither are you the trickling waterfall

made with a lesser pump, the smaller, deep
place we let fry spawn out of reach from the

older generations that would devour
them. Never will you be the bird feeder,

happy with cardinals, finch, chickadee
until the starlings come to destroy. The

cat is belled so he cannot get too far
with closeness, an ideal situation

if one is watching out the window. The
absence of the tree we had to fell, torn

in half during a wall of wind, has been
excoriated by bright colors that

bloom only in sun. Because you do not
walk the cindered lane, my black dog never barks.

Sandra Kolankiewicz’ poems and stories have recently appeared in or been accepted by, Gargoyle, Per Contra, Solo Novo, Bellingham Review, Rhino, New Plains, Monkeybicycle, Cortland Review, 2River, Anomalous, Inertia, and SNReview. Turning Inside Won the Fall Black River Prize at Black Lawrence. Blue Eyes Don’t Cry won the Hackney Award for the Novel.