—Joyce Odam, Sacramento
Yes, a place like that.
A chair in the light.
An unwinding place
free from thought or claim.
Dreamed-up or real.
Just a place to be unreal in
if you are not real.
A chair to hold you—heavy or light
—like a rocking boat that can drift away
into the edge of a passing current.
Simply lift and follow—
while a leaf drifts by,
or a bird sits watching from a tree,
shivering with happiness at a small breeze.
DEATH OF A LANDSCAPE
(after “Draft of a Landscape” by Paul Celan)
Razed. Stricken. Dug up and abandoned.
Memory’s neglect. Graves.
Small histories of small lifetimes.
Look for whatever you have lost
here somewhere. What is this place?
What has brought you here?
It is cold. It has no welcome.
It is a place without expectation.
You wander its terrain.
Ruts and stones, here and there a weed.
So that’s what you came to learn:
the tenacity of weeds; the patience of stones;
the caution of ruts. The horizon
cannot be reached, nor the end of day.
The sky is a separate thing.
You wish for a bird, and a bird flies by.
You are creating this.
Your own landscape.
THIS ENJAMBMENT OF THOUGHTS
It is almost too much to know:
this white page of silence
the sound of the room
this enjambment of thoughts;
oh what to do, what to do
about anything . . .
perhaps if lethargy
wraps its white arms
in my serious desolation . . .
white web quivers in the considering mind
I make one slow movement toward myself . . .
is like a mirror . . .
is like relief . . .
somewhere a perfect spider keeps redesigning
what is most important . . . the soft body of
light is finally caught in the patient web
and struggles there, half-heartedly.
Somewhere in the
complexity of loneliness
you wander like a discoverer
picking the darkest flowers.
The vase that I am
waits to receive
what you believe are gifts
from a safe country.
(first pub. in The Orchard, 1975)
I think I’ll go away—
find me a new place to be—
with a blue door—a blue seashore
on one side—
and a blue mountain on the other;
between these, will be
the blue door, one to each side
of a small blue room,
where I will be, in a blue center.
(first pub. in The Listening Eye, 2004)
Two agonies of prose create themselves
in words for the long winter.
She carries a cup of tea across the floor
to a break in the conversation.
He takes the cup.
Somewhere, a shuddering tree—one leaf,
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's fine fare! Today we're taking our Seed of the Week, This White Page of Silence, from one of the lines in Joyce's poem, "This Enjambment of Thoughts". Is the silence hanging there because you can't think of what to write—that blank page that stares back at you, sometimes for hours? Is it a "Dear John" letter you can't muster up the courage for, or a letter of resignation, or something more sinister? Or is it more of a metaphor: a future you want to carve out for yourself, maybe, or something you wish someone would say to you, or a sense of being lost? Anyway, fill up that page and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. But there are no deadlines on SOWs, so take your time, or maybe go to "Calliope's Closet" under the Snake on a Rod in the green board over at the right of this column for SOWs aplenty from the past. And forms, too.
The latest issue of Ekphrasis, the quarterly journal edited by Sacramento poets Carol and Laverne Frith which "addresses individual works from any artistic genre", is available. This issue has a poem from Sacramento poet Jane Blue. Go to www.ekphrasisjournal.com to obtain a copy.
A MEMORY OF TREES
Somewhere trees of dark design
droop into sorrow to refine
the art of losing leaves and time . . .
the art of losing leaves and time
drooping with sorrow to define
the dying trees of dark design.