It is the way seduction
is carried through
the imagination, the body tense
with a strong remembrance.
No, it is not that way.
It is a wondering,
a fantasy of old thoughts
buried three lifetimes ago . . .
the long summer evenings . . .
the beautiful mirrors.
Ah, that is not quite right.
It is the world, ungraspable,
seen through perfection,
the great hunger of want,
the belief that
want is what it seems.
Oh, how to get it right –
how address the last look
in the dark glass of thought –
the way shadows come between
and press themselves to the face,
the face anonymous.
Or maybe it is only the way
a moment changes from risk to regret,
confusion of now and then
forever blent in the contemplation,
the thrill of desire,
the movie of love.
KISSING THE PRINCE
Her lips were promise
as his were lies—
or so the old green story goes.
Lord knows he was handsome
in his own pond
of a mirror, if not in her eyes—
her face beside his—
believing in his melancholy,
watching the sly moon float on the water.
They were discreet, as is called for
in all such tellings. Her scented pillow
was soft—the blue moonlight
streaming over, as she lay watching—
dreaming his transformation as he slept.
How ever would they explain this?
IN LOVE WITH THE ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION
After "In Search of Lost Time" by Sarah Ashford
You come upon her now, her old wings
dragging from her blue shoulders, a red glow
fading behind her like a dissolving halo.
She will not say what she is doing,
nor let her eyes reveal
what you want to know.
She crouches before some object
that resists the determination of her hands.
That she looks away from her task
for a moment is not to change her mind.
Whatever she opens will be final,
like a decision.
She seems to listen.
To approach her now is to risk destruction:
her old wings fold and unfold like a warning.
You back away before she claims you.
That ache at my shoulders
must be an old weight
of some memory
unbidden to recall
not as answer
but as a caution of mind
that delves so deeply
it stays in that bind
and becomes illusion
faulty and secret
the one thing
you should never know.
If ever I had wings
I don’t remember them.
I would say sorrow waits in every love,
in every vow, in every lie, well-meant,
intensified by doubt and mean despair.
Love hurts, it cannot help itself.
Falling short of expectation lets it love
the moody rain and light, the way it loves
its tears—wept often and alone.
Forget all that. Love needs itself—
despite the woe—the absence that
it leaves in retrospect. Why else give up
the power of the risk; how else define
the indefinable for what it means?
(After “The Beautiful Princess”
from “Firebird” 1910 by Leon Bakst)
Attending women dress her in a flowing
paisley gown with glowing red buttons.
Hovering women comb her hair into
shining and perfect smoothness.
Whispering women advise her,
and warn her. She bends her head aside.
Silent women place her before
a glowing mirror of contemplation.
She holds a red orb of light in her hand.
She waits for the force of your admiration.
She looks at you demurely
and hands you the red globe.
The discreet mirror sees nothing.
You wonder why she loves you.
Look in my closet:
the bones are disguised as
shapelessness in dresses.
Their legs dangle into shoes.
They have no eyes.
They do not rattle,
you ask about them.
Their names are gone, too.
They do not answer to anything like names.
They are discreet,
hanging to old failures and acclaims,
murmuring there together like old biddies,
keeping the dark together
with their archaic news.
(first pub. in Pearl, 1984)
TO DANCE WITH A BLIND MAN
To dance with a blind man,
closing your own eyes, not fear
the risk of falling, dare take such a chance;
trust how smoothly he can
feel the music, clasp you near,
testing his skill, letting him have the dance;
trusting instinct will find
the floor edge, letting him lead . . .
such faith is not an easy circumstance—
how blind can lead the blind—
footwork only faith can heed—
love being ever blind to new romance.
(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine, 1997)
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix! Joyce's second poem talks about lost time; let's take a cue from her and Daylight Savings Time and work on The Lost Hour for our Seed of the Week. Where have you lost an hour, either recently or in the far past? Waiting for the dentist, or the cable guy? Trying to make sense of a tax bill? Trying to make up your own mind about something? Send your poetry about that lost hour to email@example.com/. No deadline on SOWs.
Also: Joyce's LittleNip is the obscure form called the Kerf; have a shot at that for our Form to Fiddle With (see www.poetrymagnumopus.com/index.php?showtopic=1882 and scroll down to K for Kerf).