For the purpose of allaying any
anxiety about where I stood and
was, I learned the constellations, ever
marking my spot on the face of the earth
in the context of above and below.
Even in Australia I knew what
I would see when I looked toward the heavens
in the middle of the night, the other
half to the bowl I was born in, circle
completed with me right in the middle
wherever I was from that point on, lynch
pin, pivot, center of geometric
alignments constantly changing while the
stars remained. Let me show you a map while
we listen to music, fingers tracing
dragons at the edges of unexplored
territories cause enough to leave the
lamp, go outside and make a fire, down on
the ground where equations must be altered
for our considering just what soil is
made of, why the attraction among so
many unlike particles creates the
dirt that gives us life, this place in the field
with dawn coming on, the logs in the pit
become embers, points of light gone, nothing
to navigate except three dimensions.


We welcomed the wet, for we were a
desert, little to grow, not much to
wash away, nothing to break endless
horizon, the sky so dry all the
blue had faded. Most remarkable
was the swirling cloud that brought the rain,
hovering way out there on the edge
like an undiscovered continent,
its slow advance giving us plenty
of time to prepare our urns, uncap
the cisterns on the roofs, catch chickens
and lock them in their pens. Yet without
language we crossed the yard, silently
doing the bidding of readiness,
more afraid of sand than water, of
the air current that could carry them
both and seemed the only element
that thrived while we merely survived,
the wind second only to the sun.

According to Witnesses

We were all in a hurry to get back,
as usual had spent too much money,
would be late starting supper, wanted the
crossing to put as much distance between
ourselves and the afternoon of what we
thought was guilty freedom. Put a body
of water between yourself and something
you’re tired of. By afternoon your life
will be drawing you home so strongly you’ll
even do something you know is wrong
to get there, like take a ride with strangers,
be the last soul on an overloaded
ferry, the sky grey and tormented, though
you don’t notice, so eager not to raise
fear or ire, the house empty of dinner.

Sandra Kolankiewicz’s  poems and stories have appeared most recently in New World Writing, Gargoyle, Fifth Wednesday, Prick of the Spindle, Per Contra, and Pif. Turning Inside Out won the Black River Prize at Black Lawrence Press. Finishing Line Press will soon be publishing The Way You Will Go.

“Outpost” and “According to Witnesses” were previously published at  IthacaLit.

Night Sky Stars Trees photo by Michael J. Bennett ( via Wikimedia Commons.