Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Diving Into Light

Dog Days
—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento, CA

This is too far with reach,
    cover the tracks of effort, vow not to
    infringe on what is too far to reach…

There are things too beautiful to see,
the mind cannot hold them—
nor the eyes,
they only borrow till forgetting

I remember a certain white summer moth
fluttering slowly,    for my view,    replicating
the sunlight     as it danced,     danced,
for me,     in the shining air,

I took the light to my body,    my mind,
my eyes,    which
could not stand the glare, 
I had to look away, the light kept pouring.



Diving into light,
we are
a scatter of outgrown darkness.

We break on the shore
of summer,
eager to drown.

We are the brilliance of love,
apart and together
in tenderness and rage.

How long will we suffer the bliss
of self at surrender?
How dare we love?

We will never regret—
or promise—
we will only remember.

Days are long now. We become slow,
winding through the hours
like thieves.

The sea-light is everywhere.
Gold flecks.
The whiteness of gulls.

Let us steal this light.
Keep it forever. 
Inhale it.

We hold onto the memory
of this, our first and only



First Doorway: The Curtain

Inside the first doorway an old woman stays hidden. She knows we come to her for pity. She is the mother of time itself and the daughter of anguish. Over her bright threshold an old rag curtain hangs like a spell against futility. It holds back the glare from the dark interior where we can hear her chanting an old composite prayer. She rocks a dead child in her arms. But we will enter and pay her whatever she asks—she is so poor and our wealth is so heavy. Perhaps she will love us this time and send us away, healed, and bearing her own map back to our mirror, already filling with amnesia.

Second Doorway: The Brilliance

This is the doorway we must choose when we leave—no scenic view, only the late day glare that wipes out everything. This we must see for ourselves: It is a white silence. No sound drifts back. The doorway stays open to it as though nothing can pass through. We feel it ring with brilliance. We stand just inside the white doorway and feel the pull. When we look back, all will have vanished in the moment of our leaving—that blank place we wondered about.

Third Doorway: Doorway Full of Rain

It wasn’t her weeping (or it was) that we had to pass through—that hot rain. We had to trust the grieving, always in the doorway—pouring, pouring—reminding us of old and new regrets. Sunlight danced in the glitters, became entangled, got wet, and could never be mere sunlight again. Imagine promises like this: Bright. On the other side of things. Imagine passing through sunlight in the rain.

 The Long Hours


Lisa, Lisa, where are you,
where’s your madness, what’s your hue?

All this summer, do you dance
in a whirlwind, in a trance?

Where’s your lover—is he dead?
What’s that deathless thing he said?

Lisa, Lisa, are you ill,
will you love your death until

death won’t have you any more,
when he leaves you on a shore,

drowned and broken all the way,
waiting for the tides to say

they will take you now, “she’s ours”.
Will you lose your tender powers?

Will you always be a child—
mad,   imperfect,   ruined,   wild”



Tag-end of summer, with its wilt and drag.
Then rain.  Soft.  Brief.  With its relief to see
the sky fill with clouds, a few inland gulls—
sense the renewal of energy—sweet.
Then back to summer, with its wilt and drag.

 Clay As Art


You were still a stranger, as I was to you—two
strangers pretending to love each other, walking
out on the long pier on a hot summer night where
I stared down at the water and felt the perspective
of danger. You stood behind me—the world so
real just then with some young anguish that I felt
for what was not : I wanted us to be like in a
movie—the waves crashing wildly—shuddering
the night.

It was the emptiness that turned us back at last—
the end of the pier reached, the way we had
nothing deep enough to say. The night stayed deep
behind us, the pier swaying with its long motion,
jutting out over the sea-edge which gushed and
swirled and broke its waves under. We wandered
back to the lights and simply disappeared from
each other. Only now do I reach back to tell you
how sharply I remember this.


After photo of Farley Mowat, naturalist, 1994, 
by Elisavietta Ritchie

The year you were dying.
a man stood on a vast plateau of ice

and looked out over the horizonless reaches
at the vast calmness and imagined your death

as his own. He knew nothing of you,
nor you of him.

This is a later recognition.
I give it to you as a gift of human connection :

that one could connect to another
and not be aware.

It is internal—
a thought one has when

there is a silence to fill with something more
than unnamable longing.

 Beautiful Day


The midnight bird sings to midnight now,
and to me—his listener—and the
summer window that lets his song in.

And the late cars push through the singing
with their muffled sounds—a block away—
like far off echoes of the noisy day

or a soft wind,    sighing,   
sighing,    for uncluttered wilderness.
And the midnight bird,

perhaps on the moon-lit rail
of my fence, or from the nearby tree,
enjoys his variegated soloing.

And I am in the auditorium
of his life—
an auditorium with perfect acoustics

for his rapturous self-singing,
until even that
moves in and out of my attention.

and I realize I have drifted back into myself.
Such is my loss. Such is the loss 
of tone-deaf time that refuses to be stopped.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam

The plant is in need of water.
It gasps in the sun-hot window
and curls its leaves in the feverish air.

If she, in her chair, rocking and staring,
should hear a dry, green moaning,
would she think of water?

(first pub. in
Acorn, 1996)


A red-hot thank-you to Joyce Odam for tackling our Seed of the Week: Heat Wave! Our new Seed of the Week is Luscious, which means different things to different people, which means each poem will be interetingly different—and photos, too! Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to kathykieth@hotmail.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.

—Medusa, celebrating luscious poetry!

 Dog Days of Summer
—Anonymous Photo

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.