Where the poem comes from: Sandra Kohler
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sandy, a former member of the English department at Bryn Mawr College, is the author of two books, “The Country of Women,” published by Calyx Press; and “The Ceremonies of Longing,” which was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press and won the 2002 Associated Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry. She has been a recent “featured” poet in Diner, Natural Bridge, and The Missouri Review, and has a poem in the new issue of The New Republic.
“Maybe Sibelius” was published in PMS: poem/ memoir/story #4, 2004.
This morning there's a bit of Sibelius lodged
in my brain, a motif, repetitive, longing.
When I put words to it, they're the Beatles'
–"I've got to get you into my life." Last night,
wild thunderstorms, lightning for hours after
the storm passed over. I dream you and I
are making love in a room next door to grief,
that bleak presence aphrodisiac. This after a day
on which you irritate me, I bore you. At cross-
purposes, we gesture concessions, fail to signal
anything more than a vague wave at some mirage
of compromise. I think you're obsessed with
our son, you that I'm obsessed with the garden.
I know what I'm not talking about, I only guess
what you're not. In the dream we are dancing
while making love, to improbable music, maybe
Sibelius. What is it I must get into my life?
Long lapses, rests in the music. My heart turns
over when I catch myself thinking if you died
I'd become a hermit. I already know what that
dream signals: on the other side of the wall from
bliss there is anguish. I can't sleep nights though
I'm not obsessing about anything. The story is a
ronde: A loves B who yearns for C who's mad
about A. A is the question, B the answer, C is
the demurrer. Yes, I'm obsessed with the garden.
I want to spend all day on my hands and knees,
smelling the soil. I want another life to listen to
opera, one to read Dante, one for Proust. One
in which to become a hermit. I'm jealous when
our son answers your emails, not mine. The rain
is a sudden burst, deluge. You are what I have
to get into my life. You are what I have. What
if, hurtling through these storms, we forget to
touch, to make the gesture that will heal us?
Sandy says, “This is one of the poems I've been writing recently (over the past 10 years or so) that I think of as "old married love poems." One of the things I try to get at in them is the complexity and volatility of our emotional lives, the way we feel contradictory impulses and desires, experience rapid changes in the weather of a relationship. Love poems traditionally focus more narrowly on desire and on the ideal nature of the beloved; I want to tell a different kind of truth about love. And I also love being able to allude to my passion for Sibelius in a poem.”