every night the horse gallops through the frantic
dream through the white trees in the moonlight
carrying the frightened princess away from
the danger—everywhere now . . .
its flowing mane in
the rustling branches,
or loses its footing in
the agitated roots or in
the loosening stones of
the wakening woods
that have only one
way through . . .
do not worry—this is a story I made up to scare you :
the princess is the dreamer—the horse is the memory
the princess will lose when the dream is over . . . .
THIN WHITE TREES AT NIGHT,
struck by light in a blue forest—
the forest of patterns
sunlight and moonlight
and green rain
that falls when needed,
white flickers of rain drops
that make tiny reflections
on the boughs and leaves and
even the shadows that notice them.
Here, there is nothing to be sad about,
for no one has ever been here.
These are but words for a mysterious memory
of a soul not yet born to this sad world
of so much damage and lament.
WHERE SHADOWS PLAY WITH SUNBEAMS
(After “Wistmans Wood” by Devin Dartmoor)
In the woods, many shadows and
many sunbeams play through trees that
guide me in, and in, till I am deeper in.
The trees grow thicker. The shadows shift.
The sunlight flickers in and out of branches
that replicate their patterns on the moving ground.
Turning circles lead me deeper—hearing now
the snaps and rustles—the loss of place—
the alien blend of peace mixed up with fear—
the feeling that I don’t belong : shadows turn into night,
unseen birds are closing up their songs, and I am in
the center of a center that has no direction now.
After “Turn in the Road” by Charles Burchfield, 1917
a gnarled tree
holding up a
lowering piece of sky
above a darkened building,
empty eyes staring at the turn
two white clouds (or headlights)
that grow larger and nearer
from the imposing distance
through the twisted tree,
an unnerving sound
in the breaking silence
almost a weeping (for the loneliness)
almost a cry (save me)
or something darker (find me)
from somewhere beyond
the unlit turn that keeps turning.
THE SMALL WOODS
There is a woods that keeps its wilderness,
a fallen tree-log stretched over a stream
where children like to cross. Swift water
glints beneath. Trees fleck golden in the air.
The tree-log settles above the rushing stream.
Nothing sinister here.
Gold trees dapple the air.
The sky is blue. Leaves drift down.
There’s nothing sinister,
the daylight lasting from dawn to dusk
with sky that’s blue forever, leaves drifting down,
and nothing but play to do.
The brimming daylight lasts from dawn to dusk,
the children serious, centered, alone,
with nothing but play to do—
exploring time, and life, themselves.
Serious children. Centered. Each alone
on the log-bridge, the gurgling water close beneath
as they enter time—and life—themselves—
the small, still woods keeping its wilderness.
REVELATIONS OUT OF INEXPERIENCE
. . . so swiftly go the shadows of Time, the shifting of bal-
ances, the paths we took into the tangle . . . a wonderland
of unreality . . . the woods so soft in the filtering moonlight
with their tiny trees and diminishing distance, their curious
paths of strained light into another opening . . .
. . . it was the cure, the cure for silence and interruptive
sound, a moment out of such a word as Time, immeasurable,
such a word as, ‘lived by’ or ‘waited on’, and we lost it after
all, being too immersed in trying to realize the meaning, and
import, and how strange it felt, saying it, as if it were a miracle,
somehow that was believed in
. . . and it was so small we almost missed it, so real we almost
didn’t believe it, it was something we wanted to remember,
tell each other about, like a confession, it was that import-
ant . . . and here we are, trying to conjure it again, as if our
love depended on it.
Mother, here is your son whom you would save
from life—the life he has entered
with a certain failure—
that he feels doomed—and betrayed, though he
is worthy, and whom you love
and would sharpen his tones for existence.
Now he has entered the thickets, to sort
among them for what he has lost
or cannot discover—
something that he needs, but cannot name
because it is not there—
only his wanting of it.
I walk with you through silent trees,
through golden grass,
through twilit air—
permitting love to ebb and flow
through who we were and who we are
—a grove of sadness
that we must repair.
Why such calm here
—trees and more trees
in this place without a border,
sky beyond our view,
one muted glow of light remaining?
Nothing moves, so nothing ends,
we are here in time’s lost moment,
with its mourning—
taking back what we were given.
(prev. pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 8-9-10)
QUIETY READING HERE FROM A JUST-OPENED BOOK
After “The Reader in the Forest” by Robert Henri
I want to write to you about the history
of an hour just lived.
I have come to this tree
which is very tall, and very old,
and seems to welcome me.
There are many such trees
that seem to be just as knowing
of my presence, and I am writing
from memories that seem to change as
day changes its light through the leaves.
I think I have become lost, but that
is only another small detail
to mention—if I am found,
and you are not even the
one I want to find me.
There was something
that I wanted to say,
but the tree is humming
as I lean against it and
the shadows rustle
I never knew
I know this is
only a small grove
pretending to be a forest,
but that comforts
my little while of hiding.
City sounds still try to
invade the silence—the sky
is vanishing through the leaves.
The hour I mentioned has not really
been lived, just these mood-wanderings, this
room of leafy green curtains that keep changing
their light—moment by moment through the hours.
So vague, with only twilights now—no grand announce-
ment—no noticed entrance hanging to an edge which is
growing cold with shadow. Bent years are turning our
corners. How we envy them, laughter behind us, weeping
ahead—or is that so? Is it weeping behind, and laughter
ahead? I don’t know.
—Robin Gale Odam
In the shadow of branches
on a darkness
Follow the river—
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for a fine set of poems and photos today from Deep in the Woods, our Seed of the Week. Joyce’s daughter, Robin, noticed that the titles on today’s photos made a “found” poem, a collage, so she is the author of today’s LittleNip, and thank you, Robin! Note also that Robin and Joyce will be reading this Saturday at (and are contributors to) the Sacramento Voices anthology release at Sac. Poetry Center, beginning at noon. See yesterday’s Medusa for a schedule of readers.
Our new Seed of the Week is a tough one: The Naked Truth. It’s never easy to stare the Naked Truth in the eye, let alone write about it. But give it a shot and send us your Truth, Naked or otherwise—and send your poems, photos and 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.
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