Poetry: Theory by Sandra Kohler



Where shall I start today, where
shall I finish? Do I mean in the garden?
No, everywhere. Trust to a new method,
a new process, a different pedagogy. Theory
will get you everywhere, but only in theory.
One step into the garden is a revolution,
one into the street is a suicide, one into
a child’s room is the beginning of a new
covenant. Only the past obstructs this,
only the past makes it possible.

Every date is anniversary. The ones
we remember, ones we’ve forgotten.
The choice that changed us, the meeting,
the moment. Revelation’s despair when
a long-held hope is recognized as fantasy;
time’s alterations: a child grown, friendship
ended, a tie broken or newly understood.
The day we realize we are no longer
waiting for our lives to begin. The day
we realize we have been happier
than we thought possible.

Every wine I drink tastes of a love
I’ve forgotten. I want to buy a bottle
of rose and drink it in memory of one
I remember. Memory’s glass is half full:
a terrace bounded by flowers, menace. I
stop writing, blocked not by what I can’t
bring myself to say but by bemusement
at the improbable knowledge–impossible
to construct into theory–of what
has brought me here and how.

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Sandra Kohler is the author of three collections of poetry: Improbable Music (Word Press, 2011), The Ceremonies of Longing (2002 AWP Award Series in Poetry; University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), and The Country of Women (Calyx Books, 1995). Kohler’s poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, Sequestrum, The Colorado Review, The Southern Review, The Missouri Review, Natural Bridge, The New Republic, The American Poetry Review, and others.