as shown in the Atlas Coelestis of John Flamsteed.
—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
I am the hope of myself.
I am a bowl into which
I pour a sea.
I am a land
I am the face which
looks into both reflections
and sees the one.
I am the one.
I am the other.
I stretch out my body
to feel myself move.
I am the movement I feel.
In the bowl of my hands
and rise to my surfaces
and look at the sky.
the sky of myself.
I pull the self-birds
through the wet air
of reality …
My sign is WHAT? Everyone’s aflutter about the Minneapolis Star Tribune article claiming that the world’s zodiac signs may be out of whack, due to the Earth’s wobble, resulting in all of us being a different astrological sign than what we thought—plus the necessity of adding another sign, Ophiuchus. (On Facebook, people are saying things like, “I refuse to be a Capricorn; they’re WAY too self-centered!”) For more information, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/us/15zodiac.html?_r=1&ref=jessemckinley for the New York Times summary that was published in last week’s Sacramento Bee. To me, the most interesting things about this article are (1) the term, “cosmic kerfuffle”, and (2) Ophiuchus’ nicknames: The Serpent Bearer or Snake Holder. Surely we can work those into our Snakeworld! People complained that they couldn’t pronounce “Ophidian”—what would they think if our next journal was “Ophiuchus”!—or The Ophiuchusian?
Anyway, our Seed of the Week is Cosmic Kerfuffles. Make of it what you will: does it sum up your Mondays, or your marital relations, or your histrionic boss, or global warming, or…? Maybe it’s just the distracting dust bunnies that roll around in your brain all the time—the ones that always seem so cosmic. And when does a kerfuffle switch from garden-variety to cosmic? In any case, send your kerfufflings to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 764, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.
In case you’re wondering what exactly comprises a kerfuffle, go to www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/kerfuffle and read that its origin is an alteration of carfuffle, from Scots car- (probably from Scottish Gaelic cearr which means wrong, awkward) + fuffle: to become disheveled. First Known Use: 1946 (the year of my birth!). The Scottish Gaelic origin is particularly apt, since Robert Burns’ birthday is Jan. 25—which segues into my reminding you that the annual Burns Night will take place at The Book Collector next Tuesday, Jan. 25, with poetry, food, and libations for all, starting 6-ish or so and running until 9.
Finally today, thanks to Joyce Odam for finishing up our Watch Where You Swim SOW, with a little dreaming thrown in. Somehow it’s appropriate to talk about the heavens in connection with Joyce’s poetry…
SWIMMING THROUGH SLEEP
at first there was shadow on water
which became nude woman-form
which pulled out of the water
and lay in the sun and slept
then she awoke to know who she was
and she did not remember the water
though its space reserved itself
for her returning
she walked toward the trees and put on
the familiar clothing
she got into a car that fit her key
all the way home she kept humming
the tuneless day was slipping behind her
like a dry wind she walked toward a house
that shimmered like a mirage
everyone seemed to know her so she stayed
she felt like a shadow when she dreamed
swimming through sleep
swimming out of the dream
when it rained
she felt strangely happy
as though all her molecules were separating
into her beginning self
SWIMMING IN LOST TIME
(Based on The Swimming Hole, 1884-85
by Thomas Eakins)
Six of them, in stillness and in motion,
in and out of the swimming hole,
the slow, slow day
perfect around them, time that is gone.
They are timeless. They are unaware
of this. They think of life as theirs,
no encumbrance, no place to fail, or die.
They yield themselves to the pleasure
of each other’s sameness, their nudity,
their separateness within
this closing hour. This is the only way
they can escape the rest of their lives.
This is a still of their existence—silent as
memory’s limitation, even the water-ripples
are silent around them, the sunlight
as it enters the green shadows.
I SWIM WITH THE MERMAIDS
I am dreaming.
I am awake.
I am back in my childhood—
watching myself from the shore,
afraid and not afraid. I might drown
since I cannot really swim.
I can no longer see myself—out there
with the dolphins,
riding the waves that lift us
farther and farther out.
I am not cold,
though it is winter.
The sky is slate-gray,
the waves many movements of green.
My shore-self is envious—
so far away—
there on the sand—
staring out over the lifting water.
There seems to be
no difference between night and day—
or time, for that matter.
BLUR OF LIGHT THROUGH TREES
This could be a bird swimming in water.
This could be the lace-shadow
of trees in pond reflection,
their leafy branches offered as camouflage;
it could be the whiteness of thought
in purest meaning—
could be art in its deepest reaching:
no depth here—only the surface of depth,
safe as a possibility.
The bird passed over like that,
furiously flapping through the trees,
the sky opening its safe height.
The bird had no thought such as this.
This gasp of prayer is for
the bird of swift light in its resemblance.
You in your caves of light
and dark, swimming under-
water, holding your breath . . .
How deeply you entered
the breathing-holes of the sea
and, time-deprived, swam back . . .