I go to the vast window
with its scenery that falls away.
I have no cat—even though
birds avoid my gaze and disappear.
I hold the curtain back with my shoulder
and watch the day—how it shortens
and grows chill. I should turn away,
but something holds me here . . .
THE WAITING DAY
After Summertime, 1943 by Edward Hopper
What is left for the young woman
of yesterday to do
but go on waiting, poised and ready
to step down from the stair.
But she is held by something :
the sun on her face—
her hand on the white pillar,
perhaps to balance her indecisiveness.
The door-shadow behind her
seems to draw her back,
an open window-curtain
Her white dress
flattens against her.
Wall-shadow stays perfectly still
as soft green sunlight swiftly changes
to the harsh light of the lengthening hours
while she still stands there, as if frozen.
It was only a cold thought into the light at the corner of
the room. Something lived there that would only come
out at night when certain forces and movements came
together to create an insinuation. The pictures on the wall
would shift a little, as though a shadow brushed them by.
A glance would confirm this. A chill would form at the
perimeter and work its way toward the center where a dot
of light flared a moment and went out. As intangible as
this was, the light left its impression, as though I had been
struck with it. All summer I endured this—always being
left with the feeling of exhaustion, after which a safe sleep
would come and leave me dreamless and floating toward
a white mirror that took me in, and left the dissolving,
amnesiac world of the room empty.
If I write too harsh for your ear
Forgive me, Dear, if my gentle remarks
cease to sound as clear. Regret is near,
not enough to think outside
of self—Self is at risk—
if meaning is important
that much is missed—
love words with flaws and clumsy pauses,
expectation with its measuring—
easy to stuff back down the throat
and let the loved one gloat.
OVER DANGEROUS WET ROCKS
Once you led me over dangerous wet rocks
into the sea-edge of a dwindling summer.
We were not there
to honor time or its commitments;
we were there for something
of our loss and of our finding.
The world was loud that day
with distorted size and rushing foam.
I wanted to go back.
You wanted to go on.
The rocks were gnashing against the high-tide
power of the water. ( . . . if we should slip
to drown in gripping crevices
no one was near to save us . . . )
It was a contest . . .
some way of deciding.
How strange, even now, the pulling
of our difference. Could we have known?
(first pub. in Whole Notes, 1997)
WHO IS BREAKING IN ME
Which of my sullen selves is in danger now; which one
will sleep while another cavorts and creates madness?
I am the Many-One; waves of minds wash over me, pull
me in and under, thrust me out and away.
I am Sea, and Sea-Child, with a soul of water; I smash
myself against breaking land.
I pray myself alive. I consult dreams and dreams of
dreams. My center self is at risk. Who will believe me?
THE PURITY OF VISION
(Church in Noonday Light)
(After Ranchos Church, c. 1930
by Georgia O’Keefe)
Breaking for soft light,
for melting of ice,
for any illusion the eye pretends . . .
make this serious,
devoid of flaw. Let nothing blight.
Blend and blend the premises:
shadow and shape—
mauve and white—a purity of blue.
Put no live thing
where death can harm it. This
is an objective ideology of love—
how trite. But let it be that. Make do
with first perfection first perceived,
like blindness in first vision.
FOOLS, RUSHING IN
How we wish for love
—even after loss.
As stubborn as fools.
Soon the sorrow?
Risk the old regrets?
Never mind the cost
—discover new tools.
Once more we’ll love.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for taking us skillfully over thin ice, our Seed of the Week. (Ain't them some dandy flowers??) Our new Seed of the Week is Enemies. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.
Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.