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Old-Time Recipe.

And three other poems




Old-Time Recipe

The old woman said, “Just scoop envy out
with a spoon, lay it on a cutting board, filleted
into thin pieces. Don’t confuse this act
with extracting jealousy, which is not the coveting
of what someone else has but is instead
the fear he will take something of yours which he wants,
so set it aside to add later.
Superiority and entitlement will have to be carved
out with a knife, but they are ‘oma’s’ meaning ‘encapsulated,’
so though deep, they pop out like whiteheads on your cheekbone,
easily removed. The higher the flame,
the more the contents disappear into a broth as marrow
might do. Anxiety peels back
like an onion while depression’s as common as baby
carrots, which for some become the main ingredient,
but not you, she said, you’ve
not forgotten that tears are like spices,
yearnings like salt, that the blood you let
for love never burns, curdles, or evaporates
completely, and the ingredients of hope—found
by the side of the road—yellow like wild mustard,
blue like unappreciated chicory, white
like the Queen Anne’s lace that makes implantation
impossible if your timing’s right, grow
covered in highway dust, bloom in all
but the most impossible ground.”

The Kindness Exchange

I spent my love at the kindness exchange.
That’s what we do: invest for return. Yet
what is required from the birds that thrill me?
And what do I give them? Is there any
other reason for the sole oak, mid field,
besides the cattle clustered under its
cool shade at mid-day? I have no credit
left so must invest, having overdrawn
myself while on the vacation that made me
forget how much I reaped while neglecting
to sow, the same way we should care for roads
or bridges, the infrastructure of our
isolated lives which takes us safely
through the canyon, provides a guard rail when
the view is too enticing, or brings us
water through the underground we avoid
but need to learn we depend on.

The Other Measure

This year, the worse for trying, all the striving.
Along with rent and the car, medical bills
from raw consequences. I’m not even
exercising, yet part of me is hard as
a tight muscle on a bone still thickened
with collagen fiber and densely packed in
vivo crystals, sixty per cent mineral,
as if I possess the hormones which give us
matter. Part of my skeleton is alive,
but the other measure has crossed over, the
ratios changing every year. Without some
gravity and force of impact, I’ll float off
into the red, the results of the dual
energy X-ray absorptiometry
disturbing enough to get a prescription.
Plant your feet as hard as you can. Climb and stomp
your efforts out in the sun, its light become
intravenous and making your calcium
as fixed as the ancient piles of oyster shells
on this recently claimed and gentrified coast.

Of Solitude and Lamplight

By dawn the cocoon of reminding
myself of past success in order
to survive the present dissipates in
little spirals, becoming invisible by
transferring their energy, soon
indistinguishable from the air and
the grass, just as I am, beginning
with the first foot into the leg of a
pant and ending when I finally lie
down to sleep, hours after these rays
have given up but which now so
alter the nature of my thoughts from
memory to prospect as I propose
to make my way in the world, a sun
which cannot outlast me by evening,
which will have to retire while I’ll live
into the late hours, surrounded by the
intimacy of solitude and lamplight.

Most recently, Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems have been accepted at The Healing Muse, Galway Review, New World Writing and Appalachian Review. Turning Inside Out is available at Black Lawrence Press. The Way You Will Go and Lost in Transition are available from Finishing Line Press. Her novel, When I Fell, with 78 illustrations by Kathy Skerritt, is available here. She works promoting literacy and learning in Appalachia.

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Christopher Wall
Christopher Wall
2 years ago


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