—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA
After Wash Day on the Maine Coast by N.C. Wyeth, 1934
Upon the hill the winds are fierce and loud.
The bending woman scrubs the Monday sheets.
The day is tense. The hours all undo.
The boats below the hill are in a lull
at rest on calmer water in the cove.
The scene is frozen still. The sky is free.
The tugging clothesline fights the whipping sheets.
The centered woman, bending to her chore,
does not heed the rumors of the day.
The clothespins give—the sheets accumulate—
sheets billow into clouds. The woman scrubs.
The child upon the step plays with the wind,
the weather changing for the playing child.
The sheets become the sails for all the boats.
TODAY THE WINDS COME
Today the winds come as promised.
I read poetry of dead women.
I ache for simplicity.
Wearily this time.
that leaps back into some recall
when someone said Jasmine.
It was a look in your eyes—
a gesture—what I misinterpreted.
your raincoat shining, your eyes deep
with love as I stood there disappearing.
The wind blows color here, red trees
and gold, the dying green and brown,
the brilliance of the air.
And it brings sounds—
something in the trees.
I’ve heard that voice before—
in the howling corners of the house,
in the listening silences
outside my window
that build to something there.
motion of circles
upward swarm of colors
for the NASA camera eye
could be the sky
of Van Gogh
its roiling energy
its dark and light
or upon the heavens
distance irrelevant to being
the powerful activity
what difference connects,
connects, and keeps its secret
through the curious knowing
it roils, it continues, is photographed
indescribable blue and
gold Gold Maybe !
What Is Color?
After NASA photo of the North Pole of Jupiter
It was the one window
he used for everyone, the north light
some flowers on the wide white sill,
the easy landscape spread in silence,
deep around them
the blue air tinged with green
from the trees,
white slats divided the glass,
cupping the small scenes together
as though each could be entered
separately, like dreams,
this was the window he always used
for the particular gray hour
that would come
at just the right angle—
filtering the last soft shadows
across the room,
grainy with the dying light—
always struggling to remain.
No wonder we are hollow, the ache is everywhere, in
the mind’s reunion, with the question : why can’t we
find ourselves ? The land is so barren, the mountains
so far, the winds so loud—and still we want to be
rescued—look for one billboard—one vacancy sign
in the distance, one crossroad leading somewhere.
THE WINTER LEAVES
She stretches back as if to dance,
unsettling the leaves on the counter
that have fallen from the three panels
that replace the mirrors of her questioning.
She closes her eyes into the dance—
room shadows expand into one shadow
and struggle against the light
darkened by time and its submissions.
One leaf seems to flutter, the yellow one,
the others writhe back into the panels
where all the leaves are torn and
tearing all over the ground.
LEAVING IT THERE
After “White Teapot”, c. 1934 by Lilian Westcott Hale
Here is where we took tea—this abstract garden—
winter now. The white trees shine.
The white grass climbs toward the hours of decline.
See how the white cloth does not tear,
layered with snow;
how the cup and saucer hold their pose with grace
while the absent winds declare themselves anonymous.
So, my absent Dear, I fear the tea has gone
cold again—as it did then—when we surrendered
all our time to time’s forgetting. Now I stare
through winter’s window to this
cold setting and refuse to know which death is mine.
(first pub. in Silt Reader, 2003)
THERE WAS A TREE
that grew so big
that lived so long
its roots went deep
it knew the songs
of winds and birds
and threw its shadows
just as far
as life’s dimensions are.
Thank you, Joyce Odam, for your poems about the wind, and your photos about the casualties of that sharp North Wind, our current Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is Lost Keys. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. 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.
If you’re of a mind to travel to Nevada City tonight, the Nevada County Poetry Out Loud Championships will take place from 6-8:30pm at the Eric Rood Center, 950 Maidu Avenue, Nevada City. For more about the California Out Loud process, see www.capoetryoutloud.org/.
Or, if you travel the other direction, into Modesto, Second Tuesday @ Barkin’ Dog will feature Iranian poet Zaid Shlah plus open mic (bring a love/anti-love poem by a favorite poet) at the Barkin’ Dog Grill, 940 11th St., Modesto, hosted by the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. And on Wednesday night (tomorrow) from 6-8pm, the Stanislaus County Poetry Out Loud competition will be held in the Little Theatre of Modesto Junior College, 435 College Av., Modesto, also sponsored by Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center. For more info, see www.mostpoetry.org/event/poetry-out-loud-county-competition-2020/. MoSt has a very active poetry life, so try to keep tract of their events at that website.
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
And for more about Lilian Westcott Hale, go to atsunnyside.blog/2018/11/26/lilian-westcott-hale-american-impressionist-and-portraitist/ for a good selection of her work in portraits.
—Medusa, braving the wind to look for her lost keys ~
—Photo by Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA
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.