Saturday, October 16, 2010
GOING TO HEALING PLACES
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
And when they go, down to the wild places
where they go—the ancient crow
and the old dog who are friends—
they smile in the moonlight.
I have tried to follow them, under the
wet trees, my shoes making no sounds.
But they know I am behind them.
They turn and look at me.
Now they are going there again,
the half-blind crow on the gray shoulder
of the limping dog, the crow guiding them along
by the stars in brief-lit openings.
When they return I hear them brushing the walls
with their torn shadows that mend by morning—
poor old creatures, tame and napping—one at my
feet, the other on the coat rack by the door.
THE FAMILY FRIEND DROPS BY
The family friend stands in the doorway
watching the children play dress-up
from a large tumbled box of clothing
in the open closet.
The girls feel like movie stars
as they costume and pose for each other.
Then they realize he is standing there
and they grow silly
and don’t know how to act.
They feel a power from his interest.
They say they are hot and thirsty
and ask him to go buy them some ginger ale
from the corner store before it closes.
(first appeared in Nerve Cowboy, 2000)
TWO: ONE DRINKING FASTER THAN THE OTHER
I was with a drunk and lonely friend
who bore my name like sorrow on the tongue
who said me slowly while I poured the wine
who used the word remember like a game
and always always said the same thing twice
and laughter splintered forth like spilling time
and we with so much emptiness to fill
caught all of it caught all of it until.
(first appeared in Quoin, 1975)
CONJURING UP MEMORIES
Oh, broken childhood,
full of places and fears—
tears and forgotten
and who, and who,
are these others flowing past,
you who are so small
and must go where life leads,
all the ways toward the center
past the quick
you who promised them
forever: goodbye, goodbye,
and more goodbye.
Now you spiral back
and arrive where you are:
everywhere is here,
has always been here,
moment upon moment,
hour, and year—why grieve
for what you cannot know.
A seagull appears in your dreams,
and another, and another—
those old cries.
A MELANCHOLY FOR FLUTE AND RAIN
(Listening to MINDSCAPES “Rainsong”)
If I could play the flute
I would play it in the rain.
I would let the sad wet notes
carry away my nameless pain,
my rhyme of loneliness.
I would let the far soft thunder
become the slow reverberations
that it needs to resonate the same.
I’d let the lightning crack about
in vain—as blind as any unfound
dark heart such as mine.
I’d learn at last of how such music
carries its own self away—perhaps
to you, my unknown spirit-mate,
my haunted friend, where
to some carried sound,
oblivious to me, but mentioned
in this music just the same.
we are not friends
we are not
we lock each other
(appeared in Prophetic Voices, 1992,
and Love Bites, chapbook, 1998)
—Medusa (and thanks to Katy Brown for finding us the photos!)