WOMAN WITH CAT
(After Woman with a Cat by Fernand Léger)
… presented in rounds of light
to elaborate her
which is faulty and smug
as a critic’s—
she is never absolute, as she
would have it. She holds
in an open book,
but tells her cat anything—
her cat, a holder of secrets
and loyal as
at least, the thought of that.
She wears a look of blankness
when you stare too deep
too forceful too intense,
demanding of her what you
want to know
that is so captivating:
not her beauty,
that is not the subject here,
but how she burrows into you
from such a far place as silence.
THE CUBISTIC WOMAN
(After Femme Aux Raisins, 1917 by Jean Metzinger)
She turns this way and that to feel herself turning,
to watch the expressions of light upon her.
The room keeps her secrets.
The chair is an incident of reason.
She confesses only to the bird-headed jug
on the table beside her—how attentively
it listens—how the empty glass inquires.
She moves slightly and the room
changes its whole perspective.
Her thoughts are made of moods.
The bird and the glass conspire
to intoxicate her. She is a warm glow
in a room of designing shadows.
She loves the separations of her mind—
how golden she becomes with each shift
of her body—how motion and stillness
work in harmony to perfect her. For what
impressive mirror does she prove her beauty?
There she is again, my mother, showing up
in somebody else’s photos or poems,
somebody else’s life that sounds like mine.
How does she do that and remain my own?
This time she has on her white dress and
summer hat. That’s me by her side—
held close to her. She dotes on me.
And I am awkward. Shy. Not pretty like her.
Sometimes she pretends not to know me—
glancing away at a particular moment.
But I know that’s just one of her secrets
that she keeps from me.
Her eyes always give one flick of recognition.
MY MOTHER OF SECRETS
Danger followed us, I am sure.
Why else would I fear all secrets,
all telling, all revision of facts:
the where, the who, the when,
the what of questions?
Why else would I trust the
the slant of words,
trust instinct over anything?
To your presence.
You are a long sorrow
Lengthening even as I
You are spreading
over my entirety.
I am helpless under your
You have such a wide
cold and forever.
How come I nuzzle
against you and weep
like a lost child
to a lost mother?
The way they follow you about,
watch how you move,
tell secrets on you;
ghosts of yourself
that live in every corner;
walls that speak to you
doors . . .
mirrors . . .
the very rooms . . .
the eyes . . .
Here is the map to nowhere. If you must go there, follow carefully the marked way. When night comes to your need to rest, the little towns you pass will sleep behind their simple names. All windows will be dark as if night were the end to everything. There is a place you can stay that has one vacancy—it always has. The next day’s travel will not hurry you. This is timeless country. Sleep is made of night sky, black and bottomless. You can stay on if you want to.
(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 2001)
There is more to this than love, they claim:
there is the intrigue, what they use
to solve each other, let each other in
where all the dark secrets lurk—the dark
afraid of the light.
To solve each other, let each other in
where all the dark secrets lurk—the dark
afraid of the light—
there is more to this than love, they claim:
there is the intrigue—what they use.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix—all of which she did, except, of course, for the Léger painting at the top which Joyce has used as inspiration for her first poem. Let's take her cue and use that for our Seed of the Week: Woman With a Cat. We won't be the first ones to do that, though; if you go to bjws.blogspot.com/search?q=leger+woman+with+a+cat you'll see multiferous art musings on that subject. Send us your cat-words at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce's LittleNip today is in the form of an Englyn Penfyr. Don't be scared by either the name or the fact that it's a form; it's actually pretty easy. Check out www.poetrybase.info/forms/001/113.shtml for the "form"-ula and give it a shot. Forms, not even the Welsh ones, will bite... I was not aware of that site, I don't think, and it has a huge listing of forms. Cool.
May I remind you that Poetry Out Loud will be happening both in Sacramento County and El Dorado County tomorrow—see the article on the green board at the right of this for details.
Now that I am very old—without tears—
in these years I cannot hold
are secrets I have not told.
Though some memories burn deep and still flare,
I wear them like scars, and keep
those secrets—sowings I reap.