Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Bring Me a Wild Strawberry

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


This is Fairy Tale Forest, opening slow,
with a winding sunlit path leading into it.

The warm light dances on leaves and makes
golden-reflections on the flickering ground.

The children see the sunlit path—hear the
deep singing birds, and follow the temptation.

The children will enter because it is
their destiny to risk becoming lost.

The air is sweet with the soft singing
of the forest birds—deep in its interior.

The forest keeps expanding, no danger
at its edges, no clue to its illusion.

How long can the forest hold its shape of
innocence, the soft warmth of its seduction?

The children are enchanted.  They are curious.
They go in . . . their very own wilderness.


(after “Deer in Forest”, a painting by Franz Marc)

In a continuing moiré of shadows, the forms
emerge, the soft blue animals, alert and huddled
together in a safe mosaic wilderness. Greens and
reds blend easily together. Ah! There an eye.
There an ear. The browns and dull blacks define
and separate until touched by a glow of rose:
there a curved back, a folded leg; there a lit, gold
shoulder in a filter of mauve. And the forest
closes in. The animals watch quietly together in
blue shadowings of motionless breathing—barely
felt in the vibrant quiet—this sanctuary of painted
forest, the blent and burrowing deepness, going
even deeper; the vast sympathy that controls this
place; the unity of its heartbeat; its pulse; its dark,
unclosing eye.


Out of the harsh landscape comes
the lone shadow, out of the gray stone

of this place—out of the gray hour—
the vanishing sky, comes the bodiless

shadow—so lost there is no place
for it, only this desolation,

this astounding wilderness
with no creature or vegetation—

no line of horizon, or relief of water—
nothing here but the slow shadow,

displaced from its life, or its dream, or
only created for the duration of this poem.



—as trees through blue fire sputter
and moan, their branches tangling,
their roots in a lessening hold,
grasping for blue, which may be

sky or dream—blue fire and red sky—

oh fiery love and loss—held together

through all destruction—what have you

got to lose but life and its memory—

wild music rushing through like wings

—beating in sudden joy and madness—
nothing is so pure or useful to love’s
balance in all its harmony and discord
—like all that music never written

(Asilomar, 2004)

Gnarled tree, I fell in love with you today
—the glowing way you held the
morning moon in the structured curve

of your rough branches
—the tender way you waited
for her to slowly dim and vanish

—the sharpened way the quiet
morning light outlined you against
the wilderness setting of Asilomar

—among the hundreds more
like you—but of them all,
you are the one I love

—the way you simply
compel my look to linger
as I walk past—tenacious there

—against all forces,
shaped by the sea-winds,
bent in their one direction

—on this October day,
I love you with such a reverence
that I want to address you as Thou

—though you are beyond
such affectation. Old tortured tree,  
You,   Thou,   have altered me.


Today I shall not be pleased.
Don’t praise me.

Your words are straw
for a dry earth.

Bring me a river to follow;
bring me a wild strawberry
from a mountain.

I want your eyes to say
something to my heart.
I want your hands to pray for
the soft, erosive earth
of my body.

I want you to touch my mind
with easiness.

I am so tired.
I have been through such places.

Landscapes of difficulty
are everywhere.
They impede me.
They change into wilderness.

Not that wilderness
displeases me
for its own sake,
but I will not be pleased today.

(first pub. in Negative Capability)



I feel you floating-out upon
the universe—your arm creates
a new horizon—your body
translates into something sacrificed.

Yet you sing with your impossible,
silent voice—all the way
to the next syllable of confusion—
which you will not honor.

Your shadow upon the mountain
of this transition is heavier than
your eloquence—you almost appear—
you almost return to your own meaning.

When will you leap into sorrow as rain,
as great earthquakes mentioned in newspapers,
as winds that damage everything with their furor?


When the world is loved, and love is rain,
and glass is the name of truth and fantasy—
both sides—out and in—and light goes through;
and glass receives, returns, reflects itself. And
time is soft—personified—in what it holds,
as memories made real again, or kind forgetful-
ness; as shift of shadow, changed by dark; or
simple stare—imagination’s pose.  Perhaps
the world is what it is—ordained, or changed,
or just a myth of love’s sad claim. 

           The world wants, and wants again—
with old relentless faith that will persist—with
eloquence, or awkwardly.  How best sustain a
thought like this?  One hardly knows which way
to hold the night, or hold the day—to let the glass
be what it is—transparent shield, on which the
rain can see but not get through—the body’s light,
the body’s dark—the mind, protective of the heart—
the soul untouched, or touched too much.  Why put
a window in the way of what the poem has tried
to say.


Today's LittleNip:

Muse, in my woeful condition,
right arm in a sling—my mind
helpless in its loss for words

—how will you find me in
such a pitiful state?
left-handed now, and garbling...


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's heavenly fare, and noting that our new Seed of the Week will be The Toy Box. Send your poetry, photos and artwork about the same to kathykieth@hotmail.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though.