Two Poems – by Cathleen Cohen

As Art

I approach the city as art.
Trains pass suburbs, scattered trees.
This is underpainting:
tunnels, umber shadows, screech of brakes.

Once arrived,
hands finger coats,
shoulders hunch, legs
sprint up to the street.
It’s a sketch, rush of lines.

Morning tints us with patina, like bronze,
almost noble.
Vagrants huddle on grates
like vessels lined up for the kiln.

Women in coats swerve down streets, scattering
bits of bright tangerine.

I stride quickly.
Children in parks
etch the sky.
They shout word scumbles.

I would linger
but must choose
my point of entry now:

the flat blue doors to the hospital,
the chill, definite room
where my mother
lies under sheets, pale
as the first wash of the brush.

Full Weight

Since my parents’ departure
their rooms
have a weight
as though a thousand invisible balloons
inhabit them
and slowly deflate
as happens after parties.

Their souls loll about,
ankle deep
tripping me up
as I move through their apartment.

I long for what echoes, what lingers
in closets and drawers.
Chanel No. 5, Eau de Nuit
attract           repel
like magnets lined up pole to pole,
unable to give solace.

Is this what happens?
My soul resists
their souls
and now must
drift on its own?


Cathleen Cohen founded ArtWell’s We the Poets program in Philadelphia ( Her poems have appeared in Apiary, Baltimore Review, East Coast Ink, Philadelphia Stories and other journals. Cathleen is also a painter and currently exhibits at Cerulean Arts Gallery in Philadelphia. She received the Interfaith Relations Award from the Montgomery County PA Human Rights Commission and the Public Service Award from National Association of Poetry Therapy.