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Sandy Coomer



The background is a blurred blend

of brown, gray, cream. The pallet knife scrapes

the canvas in all directions, and where the colors

meet, a new hue is born. I step back, measure

the reach of my heartbeat in my temple,

how it calms when my hands are streaked

with paint, how the light blooming through

the window loosens my throat. Don’t

go through all his things at once, my sister

advised and I repeat those words to ochre

and umber. Surrendering to grief is best done

in stages. I add another layer—emerald green,

golden yellow. I want to catch the sun on my knife,

slit its rays to prove the life in still life. In his closet,

shirts span the length of shadows. Trousers hang

neatly folded and shoes line the floor—reminders

of a world that no longer exists. But purple coneflower

catches the day and pulls the orange hearts of poppies

and coreopsis. They bend into the spray of scarlet

gladiola, the tight bud of delphinium. Phlox blinks

back the grave and I am in the garden surrounded

by grace, a greening fuse that sparks the seeds

and lets them grow again—like love tends to do

when you let it rise from the dark places, ever

blooming, ever warm, always turning toward the light.



in the slender vase

the daffodils frown

stems curved

with the weight of dying

yellow blooms


I sketch them

on the back

of an envelope

that used to hold

the electric bill


I sit at the table

and sip lukewarm coffee



I wait

for the fist of grief

to unclench


I’ve learned

there’s no rushing

the journey

when there’s so much

traveling inside you


I hold the edge

of a deep field

where the daffodils

offer gold

to a world

uncomfortable with death


and find a strange comfort

in the way they

lay down

a troubled beauty



without a word of excuse

or complaint

or apology



My therapist says attraction

feels the same at sixty as it does

at sixteen, the quickening

behind ribs, beneath belly.

She says when I met you we

were tendered for flame, both of us

like powdered glass and chemical

burn. I tell her I never wanted you

and she asks for the definition

of want, says love and hate

can be a breath apart, sometimes

interchangeable. The body

is wired for oxidation. The body

is a deeper beast, fading

into dry grass which burns fast.

See the prairies and the meadows

in rain-starved August, the pine

needles and stripped bark,

the beetles pulling sap. I drag

a broken tree limb to the burn

pile, watch magnolia leaves curl,

sizzle in heat. My therapist asks

if we were more fantasy than real,

if the idea of us was what I wanted.

I ask for the definition of real.

I follow the shape of a leaf

floating into the blue-wisp sky,

the edges orange, defined,

then destroyed with heat.

I tell her I loved you. I tell her

we burned each other, first

with our tongues, then with our

wild, hard hands.

Sandy Coomer is a poet, artist, Ironman athlete, and social entrepreneur from Nashville, TN. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and she is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a full-length collection, Available Light (Iris Press). She is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee and her poem, "Calligraphy" was a 2019 Best of the Net finalist. Sandy is a past poetry mentor in the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program and the founding editor of the online poetry journal Rockvale Review. She is the founder and director of Rockvale Writers' Colony in College Grove, TN, a not-for-profit organization that exists to support and educate writers of all genres and backgrounds. She is a teacher, a dreamer, and an explorer. Her favorite word is "believe."

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