Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Trees Made of Light

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


The cat has been stroked
and has left my lap to the
lamplight in the dark morning.

Hum of early traffic begins . . .
no . . .    it is only an airplane drone
—gone now.

My pencil scrapes the page with a
strange sound—whisper of language
a pen does not know . . .

A thin whine in some far background
says,  Here . . .     Now . . .
in my ear only.

Shall I rise to the dark morning
and put all this away,

Now that morning no longer
belongs to me,
I am distracted.

But the words still compel me with their
illegible scribble; time is going,
and they accuse me.

Where is the comfort-cat now—
that silent shadow
of casual existence?

 Trees in the Top

From May Sarton’s "Well"

Ah, yes—the old drowned doll—that mystery again. Foul
play, I’m sure—cliché of broken childhood : play turned
cruel, indifferent to the sadness of dolls. This one awkward
upon wet sand as if up-flung by a rejecting wave. Poor naked
doll, its face ground in, one arm raised as though to swim
out of this flailing—one foot dug in—the day turning cold—
night coming on, and no one to grieve its dying.



I have never let nights go dreamless,
unsettled and strange
twisting them into scenarios
ever uncompleted—
ever dangerous.

I, the messenger, the lead, the foe,
the very direction—
without finale,
make up the dreams without ending,
knowing I can break out of sleep
at the point of my destruction.

 Trees in Late Sunlight

After "Facing the Tree" by David Ignatow

O, My Tree,
let me now arrange your
leaves before they fall—
angle the light
for the shadow—
                            add a bird
or two—some music—
and call you Symphony.

and this tree of light—
hollow light surrounded by leaves
and branches, openings
for sunlight and birds—
for wind,  
               and little breezes,    and the seasons
that have their effect, this tree that faces the window
where someone looks out year after year
upon this tree made of light.

I gave someone a polished leaf from a tree full of
such leaves—a perfect, new-falling leaf—shining
like a bronze reproduction—floating on the arrested
moment of air that the light caught—the other leaves
around it fixed and motionless in the shade of this
old tree. But a tiny patch of sunlight had flared
with some purpose that I recognized—and complied—
and took from the others, this little gift.

Once a weariness so heavy came
upon me that I surrendered to
a yearning and sought
a tree I knew that
had vast shade and
quiet. I brought myself
to its healing and lay on the ground,
looking up through the branches
and slightly-moving leaves,
and I slept for a long
while, unwinding
and renewing.

 Front Yard Trees, Fresco


I would say sorrow waits in every love,
in every vow, in every lie, well-meant,
intensified by doubt and mean despair.
Love hurts, it cannot help itself.

Falling short of expectation lets it love
the moody rain and light, the way it loves
its tears—wept often and alone.
Forget all that. Love needs itself—

despite the woe—the absence that
it leaves in retrospect. Why else give up
the power of the risk; how else define
the indefinable for what it means?


After "Etretat, 1885" by Monet

Somewhere I have written words to go with this:
the hole in the rock—jagged and huge,
and through it—the boat ghosting by—

and another such rock beyond—
and another—
jutting out into the calm sea.

But why calm?
A dream-scape for a sleeper
caught in levels of benign imagination?

But, no.  The dream and the sea—
the gaping tunnel in the rock—
as well as the drifting boat—all the dreamer

—all painted to bring everything to a stop:
the boat never reaches beyond the passage—
the sea stays at ebb—the dream dreams.

Only the rock-shadows quiver with surface light,
almost breathing—revealing detail;
almost making a sound—like dream music.

Somewhere I have written words, left with the sea,
lost in the seventh wave, answering everything,
even this later quarrel with recognition.

 Green Tree


A chair in a room blue with light, back
to the window, well sat in,
its rounded contours softening
in the dim recognition of what it is—

how often have we noticed in abstraction
something as familiar as a chair, something
as patient and allowing and as
comforting as a chair?… and in the room

two windows doing what they do with view
in the rust-blue light of a fading afternoon,
and the very walls that hold everything in,
and the way the quietness simply waits…

and then we notice how long it takes
to intrude across the floor,  
and we remark on this for something to say
to remove the overtaking block of silence,

for now we must open ourselves again
and let each other in and let the room
breathe around us, though it is being
very still and blue through its blue curtains—

all rust-blue—in the late light spreading
across the floor in our direction;
and the chair stretches out its shadows
even more and goes deep; and maybe now

something will become ultimate: the windows
pull us toward their lowering light
and a flood of sorrow comes from nowhere
and we lose our hold and weep.



Once more we enter the spiral
that whirls us inward
and down

into the coil
of invisible dark
that we expect, through the

heart, bitter with love,
and the eyes that pool—
and there we are

in another whirlpool

through the resisting center.
So many depths to pass through,
each one a condition of time

that stays unaccountable—
we can never recall
the return of all such promise—

is erased
it seems by our
need to test once more

the spiral with its sweet vertigo
which now has become
an addiction needing us as well.


Today's LittleNip:


Once a weariness came
upon my being
and I surrendered to a yearning
and I sought a tree I knew
that had vast shade and quiet
and I brought myself to its healing
and lay on the ground
looking up through its branches
and silently moving leaves
and I slept for a long while
unwinding and renewing,
under the flickering sunlight.


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix extolling Sacramento's fine trees (does anybody have a remedy for the drought that is making them suffer?), and calling attention to how Joyce's "The Healing Tree" (see LittleNip) is a reworking of the last verse of her "For the Tree Itself". Joyce has great courage about recycling parts of poems, turning prose poems into verse, stealing shamelessly from herself just to see what else can be done. This can be a very useful way of poking the muse into doing double-duty for you; give it a try sometime.

Oh, Medusa!—we forgot your birthday (May 29)! And the tenth it was, too, an especially important one. Well, I suppose it's immodest to wish oneself a happy birthday, so I guess that explains your silence on the subject, lady that you are. Anyway, DR Wagner had a fine post for us that day, which was an excellent way to celebrate. Many happy returns, Medusa, to you and all your fine poets and artists. And our new Seed of the Week shall be Birthdays, just to keep the birthday thoughts going. Tell you what—anyone who sends a poem about birthdays to kathykieth@hotmail.com before midnight on Sunday, June 7, I'll send you a free copy of our new edition of
WTF! Howz THAT for a deal?

 Palm Tree