Gray Morning by Sandra Kohler

Gray Morning

Everyone’s a stranger, even the twelve sparrows that settled,
as if from a Christmas lay, in the lilac shrub’s harsh bare twigs.
I don’t see anyone familiar in the streets. Why do I fret about
taking out recycling, annoy my husband? Only one bird left in
the lilac – now two. If I understood their movement would I be
content to live and die?

I look out at the street, the porch banner blowing in gusty wind.
It’s chilly, gray but pale gray, not dark. Each scrap of leaf left on
the pin oak shivers. Now sunlight, faint for a moment, vanishes.
Morning’s pleasures – daybreak’s light, sparrows, body’s breath,
movement – outweigh the pain of mortality’s sting, despite fears,
trepidation: small triumph.


Sandra Kohler’s third collection of poems, Improbable Music, (WordPress) appeared in May, 2011. Earlier collections are The Country of Women (Calyx, 1995) and The Ceremonies of Longing, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003). Her poems have appeared in journals, including The Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Illuminations, Tar River Poetry and many others over the past 45 years. In 2018, a poem of hers was chosen to be part of Jenny Holzer’s permanent installation at the new Comcast Technology Center in Philadelphia.

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