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Sandra Kolankiewicz

Things Not Real

The first time I emptied I thought I’d die 

from it, how grief does not wash over you 

at the beginning but rather pounds you 

down so you can’t stand up, have to take the 

wave on your knees. You can lose the world you 

know simply by submerging, resurface 

to a view you don’t recognize, under 

water for thirty seconds while the sky 

grows a new skin, the cliffs shed lavender, 

become monuments you don’t recognize, 

which mean nothing to you except you are 

small.  Next, you will see the invisible 

waves on dry land to which most people are 

oblivious, crashing on the table 

besides yours in the café, engulfing

and separating the couple eating 

there from their little boy carried away 

by the backwash, the swash all that matters, 

leaving them empty armed, wondering why 

they are the only ones wet, cold, without 

their baby.  No one else notices, the 

cash register ringing, music playing, 

everyone else at the other counters 

talking or looking at a phone.  In the 

parking lot, a man is sucked past the booth 

and into an alley. No one sees but 

me.  An airplane pilot on the news says 

he was carried away by a force he 

could not resist nor understand to find 

himself later facing a jury.  I 

can’t judge anything with my own eyes, don’t 

rely on yours, either, or my neighbor’s, 

for most of us see things not real, just don’t 

discuss.  Me with my waves, you with all your 

conspiracies, her with the angry hounds 

at her heels, another watching the stars 

crashing around him while he mows the lawn.

In the Every Day

If I had a moment, I’d divide it 

with you, turn the gaze of my memory 

on so you could see what I know, feel what 

I share with the dying coral reef, the 

white-bellied leopard shark floating above 

it, red-lipped clown fish swimming towards me in 

the crackling water.  Here on land, thirty 

years and a world away, dawn silently 

gathers itself to face the day watching 

over starlings that have commandeered the 

feeder, hard to protect lives so bent on 

destruction, which fight like prisoners who 

don’t realize they are free and make a mess 

of seed that was left out for all, giving

them the privilege to be themselves like 

acquiescing to their right to pillage 

while wanting to focus on cardinal 

and sunflower, having to shine light on 

all, even those who cannot possibly 

deserve illumination, finding the 

raw and the sublime in the every day.

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