Sunday, May 09, 2010

Whoever I Am

Photo Enhancement by Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

coffee cup jostles the saucer—
tall, lean, shoulders sloped
head wrapped in the night turban
flowered housecoat snapped-to
she closes the front door
clink of glass jalousies
walks out to pick up the Herald
folded into itself—sleepy as a child

Mother Mother Mother pin a rose on me

mist rises
puddles rim the lawn
it must have rained just now
drenched the Bermuda grass

—if I could hug you again

cloud-heaped sky, lowering heat
my pillow damp
sweat at the back of my neck
where hair grows
makes a mangrove swamp

another clink of the jalousied door
Mother inside the hushed morning
even the grackles quieted
she sinks back, fingers the paper
coral shell nails
tap through the pinked pages
there, the crossword

…hug you, Mother

I turn the pillow to a dry place



says something I almost hear
on this night
away from her—her voice urgent,
something important—
something she forgot to say before.

And I must listen with no response
under the sound of her voice
that in my mind is speaking.
And I grow confused:
is it now—
or some other time,
and where am I
in my inner distance?
I am altered by her voice
which is murmuring—
halfway sad—
though she is trying
to comfort me.

It’s all right, Mama, I say,
and she grows silent.
The soft wind in the night
rattles my window and moves on.
Goodnight, I say to no one.

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento


—Joyce Odam

First she would pierce the eyes
with an ice pick
to pour
the strange and colorless milk
into a jelly glass for me to drink.

Then she would crack the shell
into jagged pieces
with her small kitchen hammer
to get to the white meat
that shone like crystal—

this we would dig at
with a knife,
or scrape loose
with our teeth—
this exotic, occasional treat.

The last of the pieces
would always harden
and lose their sheen,
And I never wondered
if she ever wanted to taste the milk.


—Joyce Odam

Mother, it is for you I reach into life
for myself.

Whoever I am is still you.
Life holds us apart and we mourn.

I create mirrors in my mind—
fill them with you—age into them.

All my life I pulled free of you,
and still you loved me.

You honor me
and I weep my own forgiveness.

The force of your energy lives in me.
I claim it to continue.