Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thinking of the Sea

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento

(After Thoughts of the Sea, 1919 by William Cahill)

Thinking of the sea,
how it seems to follow you
as if it needs your return; 

this morning’s wet blue air
brings back the sound and scent
of long-ago summers.

The harrowing cries of gulls
fill your open window,
the sea so close now

it could be right outside;
you could step out the door
and walk out to its edge.

The power is yours, this memory.
You open your door
to the sea—

gone quiet now that you have returned.
This calmness
is what you have waited for—

the three levels:
earth,      sea,      and sky
all perfectly fastened to each other.



It was always the gulls
with their hollow screeching
and white wheeling flight
that I loved . . . .


You speak in words,
textureless as shadows—

not that meanings
are lost—

your soft persuasions,
your voice going on and on,

word after word,
which are only sounds.

My thoughts escape.
You become background. 

I slip in and out of silence.
Soon, seagulls appear

and make their slow,
white statements overhead.

Thinking of the sea,
I follow them with lonely eyes.



So when you decided together
to try that glittering sea,
borne on momentum
of beauty-shared flight,
the guessed-at arrival,
we, of the heavier wings
and held by the shore-winds of fright,
looked after you,
our beaks screaming open.

Your feathers were silvery white
in your love, like the ghosts
that you wanted to be.
Your wing tips would touch,
fall apart, and deepen again
for improbable climb
as you courted
the rhyme of dark waters
and sweet agony
out of sight.

(First pub. in The Ninth Circle)


The slow moment of time, the gray window
that lets in light, yet holds the darkness;

the way the cold walls shift, or seem to.
And the tiny window glints out over the bay;

how near the sea—the old admonishing sea—
claiming what it claims, whispering, come near . . .

stay back . . . and the sea breathing in and out.
Such is the compromise, the subtleties of shadow,

and the tides as they pull again at the moon’s
urging, and the earth’s rejoinder, and the day

fills with strangers, changing the mood and
rhythm of the reverie that breaks

the connection between sea and window.


(After Woman and child at sea edge by Dorothy Massey, 1962)

The woman and the child
are interchangeable. Their backs
are turned to us. They gaze at the sea

—the abyss
of childhood—shore
of turbulence—sea that hungers.

Waves crash against rocks,
make their loud sound
and recede.

The sky surges with winter.
A cold light spreads everywhere—
heightens the agitation of the waves.

Where can this be—
this edge of nowhere—
this deep distance into time?

The child
is the memory of the mother—
the mother the future of the child.

Yet they stand together
in the certain innocence of being—
each the custodian of the other.


Two mannequins by the graphic sea
in winter light and mood,

bald as moons and
ragged as the wind before it dies—

two mannequins of whim
brought here for art’s caprice :

the one in black

arms raised above her head,
waving a black baton;

The one
in shredding white chiffon

plucks at a lyre—
half-toppled in her chair.

The old black sky is lowering.
The white sea ripples near.

No footprints mar the sand.
No one has come to stare.


Today's LittleNip:


What is
so lonely as
a figure at the edge
of a quiet sea—at night—in

Eos, 1973 by Will Barnet)


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for her poems today on last week's Seed of the Week: Beachin', and her beautiful photos of spring flowers. 

As Poetry Month winds down, it seems only fitting to bring our ars poetica thoughts into the personal, so let's go with My Life in Poetry. Try to talk about what poetry means to you/does for you/releases in you/scares in you. Writing about the most personal is tough, but give it a shot. And don't forget that Poem in Your Pocket Day is Thursday—don't forget to arm yourself with poems for the world around you. And we have new Facebook photo albums, too. Check those out!