Sunday, August 07, 2011

I Am Lyric

—Photo by Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

—Joyce Odam

The way we build words around desire, talking our way through loss and want, wanting and losing and explaining nothing. We move in the rhythms of words and hear and see ourselves in the language of whatever love is.

We hurt and want each other, and our loneliness. We cannot be solved. We are never a reunion. Only the force receives us and builds us differently. We emerge wearing masks, our new faces.

What is light, we ask the darkness, and darkness spreads. Gardenias glow in the moonlight.

Another morning allows us to waken, pressed between shadows named Resist and Surrender. Once more we sorrow forth, talking our way through loss and want—building words around desire.

Drone of night wind. List of sorrows. Moon struck trees, fluttering whitely. Dog yelps from a hidden distance. False hum of silence. Tense listening. Quarrel with the cat who wants to play. Stars on the windowsill. Snowflake patterns. Child-thought. No more stars to wish upon. White breeze echoes. Clock moves forward. Photo of Mother under Modigliani nude. Nude sleeps. Mother smiles. Secrets. Banished cat meows outside closed door. What will you do when forever ends and you are no more.

The way two divers dive together in perfect symmetry, barely splashing the water—being judged for their perfection—that is how I and my shadow move together, no matter what the hour.

Flowers hurt, tight in their vases, stems crushed between baby breath and thick green leaves. Oh, wilted roses, how beautiful you were—how fully red, profuse with celebration. Now you count yourself finished and wait for someone to remove you.

The woman made of silk came through my poem and wanted me to write her. But she was vague and slightly familiar, as if out of some movie or memory I never had. She settled into my words as if she belonged there. I resented her lack of clarity—the sound she made when she moved—the way light caught her in little soft shimmers and learned to love her. No, I told her, and she went away.

I am worth the thought you have. I am lyric. Have you not felt my resistance. Even now. Your death an illusive memory, made of more than I can handle. I still talk to you through my various realities. You fit none of them. What do you mean by what you do not say? 2:56 is a strange set of numbers—nothing to connect it to. I do not bother you with this opinion. I do not want you to look at me—the way you did not want me to kiss you goodbye. How dramatic is that!

It’s the transom again. First the voice comes through. Then the pale hallway light. Then the musty smells of the quiet building. Then the shoe. I wake up and let her in.

A velvet lady postured in the gloom. Rustled. Her voice was a deep purple—almost black. She swore and laughed. She had spilled a drink and smelled like dark wine. Her hand glittered. And her tears.

The way he would flick burnt out matches onto my bare legs after lighting his cigarettes.

But then he taught me to dance at the dance floor edge of the huge Rendezvous Ballroom, the music playing swing and I learning to just keep doing the same step when he twirled me around and around to the beat.

Why does it snow when we are lonely, we want to know.

My childhood is full of pretend snow. Even now, I try to make it real. I have so many footprints to use, like paper snowflakes, like cardboard insoles for my shoes.

I used to want to be the hat-check girl. I thought that would be so glamorous. To stand behind my little counter and receive the hats and coats of the ladies and gentlemen of the movies. Music was always playing and lights were dim. The men would flirt with me. The women wore elegant gowns and looked bored. I would be discovered, I knew.

Here it comes. Another ending. Only a few more poems to read. I don’t like to finish a book. I close the book.



Happy Birthday, Joycey!

Close the Book
—Photo by Robin Gale Odam