Andrea Cohen’s vision is prismatic. She is a distiller of what can’t be seen except by holding still and allowing it to go through you. Here she gives us a view of the fecundity in a barren landscape—what is nourishing there and how it can be beloved. Hers is the forthright voice of someone who has noticed and decoded what moves us.

 

Pastoral

By Andrea Cohen

Other people have
what they have.
She has the land.

She stands outside with it
all hours, all seasons.

She teaches it
survival skills: what
to do if food is scarce,

if lost or approached
by a stranger. She hides

from the pasture and takes
its picture in a blizzard,
in a drought, when, searching

the horizon for her, the land appears
most vulnerable, most unarranged.

That’s the picture—not the one
grinning, with her, in sun—she’ll
need, God forbid, should it

go missing. That’s the photo
she’ll plaster to utility poles,

to milk cartons: the likeness
of the pasture—bereft—
without her in it.

 

“Pastoral,” from Furs Not Mine, a forthcoming collection by Andrea Cohen.  Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books.  All rights reserved.

Andrea Cohen’s poems and stories have appeared in Poetry, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review, The New Republic, Glimmer Train, The Hudson Review, and elsewhere. Her poetry collections include Kentucky Derby (Salmon Poetry 2011), Long Division (Salmon Poetry 2009), and The Cartographer’s Vacation (Owl Creek Press 1999).  Her forthcoming collection, Furs Not Mine, will be published by Four Way Books.  Andrea Cohen has received a PEN Discovery Award, Glimmer Train‘s Short Fiction Award, the Massachusetts Book Award, and several fellowships at the MacDowell Colony. She directs the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, MA.  Visit her at www.andreacohen.org