Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Deciduous Years

Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Her arranging hands catch in a held position
as some thought happens and all
the forces of the moment
fix timelessly together
in level after level
of slanting light
through the
windows, the
room dissolving,
the vase melting into
her arm, the daisies into
the disassembling of the table,
her face into the blank stare of inattention.


(after "Woman in Purple", Photo by Cristina Venedict)

Three stone steps lead up to a wide door.
A woman in purple guards the stairs and
the door. She has been hired for this. She
holds the secret word that must be said if
you think you know the conundrum.
A woman in a long purple gown and long
black hair is sitting upon the bottom stair
of three. She is not of this time. She feels
this is her home. She will not leave. She
opens her arms wide and rests them on the
second stair.
At first the wide gray stairs were empty. 
The heavy wood door would not open. 
The tall dry weed at the left corner of
the building keeps scratching a groove
in the cement siding. The woman sits
there now, in the purple twilight, even
though it feels like rain.
This is not even a house. This is a façade
from some beginning. Time leads away
from it. It stands alone on the back sup-
ports. The woman in purple seems to
have faded into the closing shadows.
On closer look, one can see that the
woman is painted there. She has no ex-
pression. She has no season. She is the
perfect ending to a book, or the beginning
of the next. Let us have no more conjec-
true here. This is only the particular shad-
owing of light and dark that form together,
as are we.



In three                                                             
sepia panels:                                                      
huts at the base of  
mountains: tiny cattle                                          
that graze: figures who tend to their daily toil   
but look at the distance—                                       
beyond the mountains—                                    
letting their far gaze                                             



Here comes the rug man, gliding in smooth
essence from path to path with his small ex-
change-rugs across his arm, moving with
vanity and charm, laying them down in the
cold hallways. His job is important. Like an
elegant purveyor, he proffers the cleaned
rugs to the floor, as if he loved them; as
if he wanted them to hold neatly in place,
with their edges down, to give the ambience
of warmth, buffer sound, and softly cushion
all the walking.

(first pub. in Parting Gifts, 2003)



I have met myself in the broken mirror,
watched how I cracked when I barely shifted, 
marveled and marveled at how I held together,
eye to eye, and mouth to mouth with my fis-
sured smile that admired such a countenance.
Today I go where the violets are rusting in the
rain. I carry an umbrella for them, but it is all
too late. They droop and bedraggle, and even
the yellow ones seem beyond hope. I feel like
a yellow violet rusting in the rain.
I thought I would never wear silence again,
such sobbing, such screaming, lost down
endless corridors on clumsy reverberations
only to bounce at the end and go silent, that is
what I mean. Oh, silently, that is what I mean.
Found an old manuscript in the rain today.
Wept at its words, so lost. Wept at its words,
so blurring together. Mourned at its meaning,
words and meaning, their ink dissolving. I am
an old manuscript blurring in the rain.   
My anger comes slowly now through the long
endurance—of reasons—of old patience spilling
over into that hopeless rage against all that is so
unfair. The anger—the anger is here and how
can I lose it, my anger that comes slowly.
Violence came up to me and said, “Hire me.
Hire me. I am cheap. I am good at what I do.
I haven’t eaten in three days. I’m down on my
luck.” And violence gave me such a look, I
considered—considered—what would this
cost me?


Today's LittleNip:


The year—deciduous at last—its days
all counted down, its worries and its woe,
its seasons done, the testing of its ways—
     and one more January looms.
Our favorite holiday, we laugh, and go

toward it with the energy it brings—
our yearly resolutions strong again
until they end up with the other things
     that fit our mental storage rooms—
the ones we try to clean out now and then.


Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's Kitchen delights! Now that we're all Back to Work (our Seed of Last Week), it's time to move on to a new one: At the Bus Stop. Let your imagination run where it will and send your poems, photos and artwork about what happened at the bus stop—or on any other subject—to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though. Click on Calliope's Closet at the top of this column for SOWs from the last few years—or make up your own!