—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
The poor trees have forgotten
where they put their leaves
they keep shaking birds loose
and the winds says
soon—soon I will bring back
and the trees smile
where the winter sun is lying
in golden positions
upon their branches
and the birds forgive them
(First published in Portland Oregonian, 1970
then in Joyce's mini-chap, Frog Perspective)
He needs his umbrella
because, if he has it, it will not rain.
It will not rain because he is ready for it.
He is impatient for rain—needs
to know he can flip open his umbrella
in case the rain comes suddenly upon him
when he is out in the open,
with no hat on, and lost from any
direction because he has forgotten so much.
THROUGH THE OBLIQUE MIRROR
Here is where it ends—this long corridor,
each step mysterious, like someone else’s
memory. Whose mirror is this, anyway?
—hung at the wall-end, where you watch
yourself approach—as from a forgotten
distance—farther than you imagined.
(after The Old Beggar Woman, Barcelona 1901, Picasso)
All night she walks in her blue fur,
ice-light on her face, crystallizing
her expression. Her yellow gown trails
in the yellow reflections of the street.
She has forgotten where she is.
Her bare feet move in the direction
of rain. She catches herself in a
passing window. Light mocks her,
holds her fixed. She poses and poses
for the admiration of glass. Under
her coat, her hands hold her breasts.
Her blue fur slips from her shoulders.
She begins to undress.
She buries the secret like some forgotten toy,
or one discarded in her mind—under
the busy thoughts that surface.
The secret sinks and sinks to the bottom
and settles there in the mud
of her existence.
It burrows deeper.
But there is no deeper,
so it nudges there—remembering itself.
But she will not
let it rise; it is her prisoner.
She’s afraid of it. She knows it can tell.
the dancer suspends in air
holding his leap
loving the perfection of it
he is almost a snapshot
he makes the music wait
the whole day falls around him
he does not move
spotlights of night come on
and he shines in his bright costume
he has forgotten how
not to be a dancer
(First published in Poet News, October 1988)
What is it
we have forgotten
so we cannot praise it?
Did it not belong to us once?
Then let us praise our lack of it
to honor our endurance.
We must revise our needs.