Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fragile As A Dream

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Her sleeves of light are shining on her arms
and when she moves

the sleeves make a sound
like a flicker of butterflies.

She is graceful before the window,
her arms in a kind of sway,

in the huge orange sleeves
of a kimono,

as if dancing to a music
almost too slow to be felt.

Perhaps the sound
that comes from the closet is a moan,

like a slow discordant music.
Her eyes are closed.

She puts her hand out toward the light
and seems surprised to find it cold.

It slips away as the sun goes down.
and the window

holds the sudden shape of darkness.
She feels a shiver of fear.



A Monarch butterfly fluttering down
  the low afternoon
    in a startle of orange confusion…

Child, do not touch
  that soft and tremulous life
    at the edge of your reach,

it goes from here
  to everywhere it has left;
    it goes in a fragile flight
      from here to extinction.

Touch the air where it was;
  feel how soft and empty,
    how it makes your eyes wonder
      what is gone.

Child, that was
  a Monarch butterfly.
    Did it delight you?

Did it touch your life
  with its own,
    brief…   bright?

(first pub. in Limestone Circle, 2000)



There is something about a moth and a tear that I try to
recall—something about sleep—with a strange dream—
with a message that was not clear. I wish I could remember,
although the tear was blue, and the moth was gray. There
was nothing real about it, yet I believed what I both felt and
knew for a moment. The moth was old and was the keeper
of the tear. The tear could not heal the grief that had such
need of it. The moth is the subject of this story, the tear is
the sympathizer. What is more useful for diversion, when
everything unbelievable depends on this?


I have tempted you with one too many mirrors.
My dance is in rags, and my song has become

weary of itself. Tonight I have brought you this moth
of loneliness; I will leave it beating its white wings

against your sleep. You will not know what it represents.
I will recede into the shadows you keep around you

for protection. I will let the moth tear the shadows,
and you will try to find me.



White moth in moonlight, fragile as a dream,
white jasmine under a window, summer at its longest,
a path into darkness where the dream is lost.

The dream taking over the dreamer—
a white dream-figure trying to awaken,
the white moth in moonlight beating at the dream.

Summer will not surrender. Summer is all.
The white moon burns the night with its fullness.
The lit path darkens where the dream is lost.

Jasmine wafting through an open window,
white jasmine in a shaft of moonlight—
the moth made of moonlight, or the dream.

The white moth flailing under its own heaviness,
too far to the moon itself—its wings too frail;
the path of darkness closing where dreams are lost.

A white moth fluttering in a white direction:
Love is like that . . . effort against reach . . .
a white moth in moonlight, fragile as a dream,
a path into darkness where the dream is lost.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix! We just posted her "Reparations" (which is Today's LittleNip) this past April, but it is too perfect for our passing Seed of the Week (Lepidoptera) to let it, well, flutter away. Plus, it's time to get back to forms. "Reparations" is a forty-niner: Seven lines, seven syllables per line. Have at it.

And while you're composing, please ponder the fires in surrounding areas (including the Kieths' recent almost-fire—see Saturday's post) and write about our new Seed of the Week: "Out of the Ashes", whether it's the Phoenix from literal ashes such as the regeneration of the forest, or figurative ones: the ashes of a relationship, a job, a death. Send your musings to kathykieth@hotmail.com, on this or any other subject. The snakes of Medusa always need feeding…

Sac. Poetry Center and Frank Dixon Graham could use a hand with the Race for the Arts table and team this coming Saturday (8/24) at Wm. Land Park from 8am-12noon. See the "SPC Team in the Race for the Arts" Facebook page for more info, or go to raceforthearts.com to register to run.


Today's LittleNip:


A stone dislodged from a path,
a butterfly torn by wind,
a voice-echo as it fades:
oh to reclaim what is said,
oh, to restore what is harmed,
oh, to return what is moved
—symbols of all I regret.