Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Sea of Shadows

—Poems and Photos by 
Joyce Odam, Sacramento


Joyful, we rise like a cloud of angels
flying a straight line,
like geese in their true direction,

too high to be seen.
Like all the agonies of the world,
we are released into forgotten dreams,

like a scattering of soft white clouds
that trail like dresses
made of moonlight.

Joyful, we are released
from dreams of the troubled.
We are the solutions of sleep.

Children admire us,
then forget us.
We do not look back.

We are the sensations that come
before weeping.
The sky trembles to receive us.

We penetrate the lining of grief
until we are no longer needed.
We suffer with disappointment

when called back.
We thought we were free,
but we return

through the echoes
that never fade.  We separate
and return to the memories we trust.



This cat that guards my stubborn door—
this bronze and elegant cat that gleams

in the structuring light of the doorway,
and seems to like its chore—it holds

the door open from summer winds
that like to pull doors shut—where it

can stare out—and in winter,
it holds the willful door closed,

and simply looks good sitting there:
The Important Guardian of Doors.


I am candle woman.
I walk all night,
a fur coat around my shoulders.

I haunt the house of
my host and hostess
who sleep.
I read their walls.
I look in their mirrors.
I bless them, they are tired
and they dream of me.
I drink all their wine.
I fill all their ash trays.

I do not open the door to their night
which is full of peril
and superstitions.

I gaze at their cat
which gazes back
until she knows me.

Sometimes I wash a glass.
Sometimes I write a poem.

I seldom sleep.
I leave gifts for their children
in small child-places.

I watch the candles drip down
in soft, warm patterns.
And blesséd morning
always comes
just at the end of the candles.


more and more I seek out the angels
who hover, they say, everywhere
and are guardians, they say . . .

and I am close to that need,
and I am frightened
to actually seek and find

what is almost believable to me
in this need that comes so
easily now through all the curtains . . .



There is a crack in everything
and that is how the light gets in.
       —Leonard Cohen (line from "Anthem")

Look how she is holy.
Look how she is circular.

Her eyes hold the light
that holds your darkness back.

She breathes
and moves the light around her.

Is it her stillness?
Is it her movement within the stillness?

Her eyes do not say; her folded hands
disappear in robes of light.

The dark wraps her shoulders
with its safe distance.

She is a page of longing—yours
is the only truth of this, she tells you.


How did I become this band of gold.
I thought I was a glitter-rock
in a shallow stream, caressed by

years of sunlight, where I felt
the water and the light reflect me,
long before the eyes that found me there.

Now, I’m shaped to fit this finger—
turned and turned in admiration.
I like the touch.  I like the circularity.

I think I was blessed:
I remember words of love
when I was passed from one hand

to another.
I even have an inscription now—
I am its guardian, I think.  I honor that.



Strings of beads fall broken from the throats
of angels—do they do that on purpose—
leave them like clues as they soar—

float—or simply materialize in the minds of,
say, lost children—in forests—on their
way through fairy tales?

I have picked up many beads from such necklaces,
knowing they will become old-woman tears.
I do not understand this.



I am what sings here at the mouth of the cave.
I own the darkness. 
My pure memory reminds me of light.
I am vague as a sorrow.

Whoever comes to me
will stay
and be blessed by their own travel.
Bring your own mirror if you would see deeper.

A bird of warning sits on a shadow-branch
that sways—we love
the winter with its eloquence of snow—
the way the white surrounds and disappears.

Do not fear.
Pretend with me
that you were never the one I loved.


“I’ll just let the angels take me.”
(…for my mother, who said this…)

Mother, the angels are here.
Shall I let them in?

Mother, they say your name
and they watch you sleeping.

Mother, shall we let go together—
though I am miles and miles away?

Mother, the angels are singing
and you are smiling.

Mother, I see them take you
in their many arms.

Shall I let go my holding?

(first pub. on Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)


Today's LittleNip:


Take a word, and bless the word alive.
Make it sing, and never let it hide.
Wear it like a talisman—wear it
all your life.  And when it binds—
ah, when it binds—cut it with a knife.


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam and all her angels, and reminding you to check out Katy Brown's new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page. And get your pencils a-scribbling for our new Seed of the Week: Toxic.