Karen Kuchar

2021 Fall Journal

Conch Shell

We bought the conch shell on our honeymoon
from a Jamaican boy selling them on the wharf.
Flaky crusted points hide the interior mother-of-pearl.

I remember holding it up to the kids’ ears,
their eyes widened as they heard the ocean.
We know there is no water deep inside
the pink lacquered folds of its spiral shell
but we still hear the echo
of the sea.

I want to hold the moments of my days to my ear
              the golden leaves of fall
              the baby’s first steps
              the folded petals of the last rose of summer
and hear the echoes of the life that connects us all.


I left the limestone walkway
for a faint path
that led deeper into the woods
then disappeared, leaving me
to meander on the forest floor
in the melancholy of fall.

I came upon the body of a dead tree
stretched out in a straight line,
a burial mound.
Reddish-brown rotting wood,
riddled with holes made by woodpeckers
covered in moss
reclaimed by
and becoming rich earth.

I stand at this graveside
and say a silent prayer
of gratitude for life
and all that is given in death.

Whale Wisdom

The whale in my dream
asks to see me and
rolls so that her ancient eye
looks directly at me.

This summons has the strong pull
of the ocean’s undertow,
invites me to listen
in the silky silence.

She earns her wisdom
from living in two worlds.
She dives into the elemental calm
of the cold dark deep, hears
only the sound her heartbeat.
And then the necessary breach
Into brilliant sun and shock of warm air.
See as I see,
            Move fluidly between the depths
                        And the bright air.
            Take it all in
            Widen your world view
            Expand your heart.

            You will know loss and change
                        Let it gentle you with compassion
                                    strengthen you as a fierce protector
                                                of all that you come to love.

BIO – Karen Hurley Kuchar is a leadership coach and consultant to nonprofits. As a life-long writer and reader, she is fascinated by both the power and beauty of words. A time of transition in her life was the source of many poems, which are published in a collection entitled, Consider the Lobster.

She holds a Master of Counseling Psychology from George Williams College.  Her professional career included both counseling and administrative roles in nonprofit social service organizations.  During her time as executive director of Family Shelter Service, she worked with a volunteer group to encourage clients to write about their experiences. Two published anthologies contain survivor stories of heartbreak as well as the resilience of the human spirit, Wings for the Soul and Storms Inside the House.

She lives with her husband in Downers Grove.  In addition to her work and writing, she enjoys her grandchildren and spends time in nature, which provides inspiration for many of her poems.

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