Put your arm around her ragged shoulder.
Kiss her straggled hair.
Perfect her with your sympathy, her blunt
hands to her face, her sweater wet with tears.
Hold her tight to your chest, though she
resists such tenderness—her ‘last straw’
condition catching up with her at last
with its old weight. Maybe the slant of
light along the wall behind her
can be a sign—some turning for her mind,
unreachable with hope’s old metaphor.
Tell her this. Tell her about the wall-light
that reaches down toward her moment
of despair—or be silent with her, letting her
stay rigid to herself, her fingers pressing
back the tears now, her shaking stopped,
your silent presence telling her
there’s one more healing possible.
AS STRANGE AS LIGHT ON A DARK MORNING
I am unable to feel my shadow
on the white mirror.
I am wavering with movement not my own.
How cold I feel.
Death puts its arms around me and I weep
and am not comforted.
(first pub. in Lines Against Death
Mini-Chap by Joyce Odam, 2002)
OH MY HOUSE
and mute windows
your supplicant roof
and walls that squeeze in—
your doors that open and close
I love the way you float in the sky
when the stars surround you
and anchor to earth
with the secrets you tell yourself.
I know how old you are
in your comfort and strain—
in all your containment, oh, my house.
(After “Body My House” by May Swenson)
I cross this bridge by means of you—
my dead love—
dead to my eyes
and my voice
which calls and calls
over the span of your absence.
This is not a mourning for you;
this is a cry out of my own darkness,
and you not here to comfort me.
There is a difference.
The bridge is so long this year—
full of fog and swirling
cries of something out there—
barely heard and barely seen
and still we go toward it
with our awful loneliness.
THE ACT OF LONELINESS
The act of loneliness is hard to separate
from the comfort of some old reunion
never made real, only the abstract place
and time . . . like interruptions in time
to redirect some wrong way almost
taken. Fate has its place in things.
Forever the old ruse—the never reached,
the far away—the long reel of experience,
though that is not what you call it. You are
here now with your new page of yearning,
as empty as ever, and a pocketful of words.
Pathos and whimsy. Write.
You sit and think out the window, or into
the dull face of the clock, forever at war
with you. You open yourself and face the
turmoil, the little incidents of memory
that drift in and out of fog—that other
where of you. You are still lost.
A fastening: Someone said red-winged bird,
and blue boat, and something less tangible
that was gone before you caught it. And that’s
the one you want—that image, that sound,
that something that turns and looks at you
with your own eyes that is not a mirror.
Oh, reach . . . reach . . .
You sit in the floor-light
of the lamp and talk to me,
saying how madness claims you.
The doorway outlines you
to a graven performer.
I cannot recede into mind-darkness,
you have it all
at the gesturing end
of your fingers that twist so
in your agitation . . .
I am the one
in bent and inconsolable sadness,
curving inward to a deafness
while you articulate
your charming pain for me.
(first pub. in Coffee and Chicory, 1996)
like a stone cry I hear
on the darkness . . .
I am the dark . . .
I am the silence it fills . . .
it howls into me
and sinks through to my heavy heart
—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix on our Seed of the Week, Inconsolable.
Our new Seed of the Week, by the way, is My Three Follies. Send your poems, photos, artwork on the subject (surely you have more than three follies!) to email@example.com; no deadline on SOWs.