I wait for spring at this sad edge of winter, wait like a
leaf that has no metaphor but me. I am the thought that
made it real. It was never there. I needed its symbolic
presence, saved from what I knew, which was not enough,
just some thought to chew upon. This is the time of year
such thoughts intrude. Insomnia. Regret. All those reasons.
I wait for birds to sing at my dark window; wait for the
light to lengthen; wait for signs that all is well with me.
This is the stubborn edge of one more winter—counted,
and hoped upon, and gotten through. And spring is what
I want to transfer to, as if I too deserved another crack
at life’s old metaphor that I have yet to figure out.
But still I watch for signs: first swellings on the trees;
first blossoms; first sigh not a sigh of sadness; regrets
to lay aside and not sort through. I feel the slow year turn
in my direction—bud by bud—and clue by subtle clue.
We are half hungry
all the time,
not for the food, but for
the unknown taste.
The peach is in
the orchard of the mind.
We cannot find that
dark, unreachable tree;
but if we could,
that gathered ripeness
for our taste
taste the way
we thought it should.
(first pub. in The Third Leaf Has Fallen,
Mini Chapbook by Joyce Odam, 1968)
A BONE TO PICK
the chewed place on the bone
the old contention
teeth held tight from grinding
anger hurts the jaw
and anger splits the mind
like a rage from reason
and only one is right
crack down on this fact
like the last shape of the taste
with a cleansing tongue
even the gristle can double-mean
suck forth the marrow
(first pub. in Red Cedar Review of Colorado)
WHAT TO EXPECT
At first, you resonate the way a roar
of silence feels against a loss so new
there’s nothing more to feel. Resist it, or
surrender. Climb the wall, or walk the floor;
take up the grieving as what you must do
from one rage to another. If you place
your trust in time, time will be kind,
or not. You’ll have to wait on that—face
what you face, and watch the sorrows place
themselves before you with no reprimand.
(Oh, griever, you are still alone in this.)
The sorrows are but shadows known to stay
forever, as you need them, with their kiss,
so harmless, you will not send them away.
(first pub. in The Lyric, 2003)
Signs that will take you
in wrong directions—
if you follow them
you will become lost;
the signs keep pointing out
places that have no destination,
like a town that is not there—
that was never there—
that was only a town of
your own making—and you
laid out the signs
you are trying to follow,
and the signs keep pointing
to the town that is not there.
this bright ! this dark !
this cool circle of moonlight
you standing there,
singing your love song,
i standing at the rim
composing my applause
i admire you, shining, singing,
aware of my admiration,
unaware of me.
i would burst my hands
making stars of applause
for you to see.
how dare i
call such envy love . . . !
(Acknowledgement: Albany Review)
As if love wears a halo,
and it binds.
It’s not so much the aura
as the need.
What passes for love
what passes for love.
(first pub. in The Lilliput Review, 2006)
Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and pix! Her “What to Expect” is in the form of an Asian Sonnet: a, b, a, a, b, c, d, c, c, d (can space) e, f, e, f.
Expanding on Joyce’s first poem about the edge of winter, our new Seed of the Week is Roses in the Snow. Send your poems, photos and artwork on this (or any other) subject to email@example.com/. No deadline on SOWs.