Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Shape of Words (desert love poem) by Odawni AJ Palmer

I found you
folded in the armpit of a megadune
you were crying
and the winds of the Taklamakan Desert
whipped up sand -
it clung to your face.

I had been stepping through sand
on all fours
in search of a lake.
After two days,
I was trying not to believe
it to be fabled.

I had been left by my Bactrian mate,
not long ago,
for a Uighur man with dusty black hair
and green eyes of jade.

To bide time,
I had been pushing a poem,
endlessly trying to find words that hung together
but nonsensical strings of adjectives
tumbled out in the heat.

I tried to find verse
in the sun and the sand,
I looked for inspiration
in the stars and the wind,
in my breath;
in my fantastic illusory oasis,

no words came ::

but more sand, and more sun,
more wind and more stars, and my breath,
and more sand,
and more sand,

and then you.

---

(Written July 12th to 15th, 2010, while traveling along the Silk Road in Xingiang Province, China.)

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I first encountered this poem just last week, sent from a friend who thought I would like it. As I'd been hemming and hawing about which poem/poet to post here, the arrival of this poem in my email was a serendipitous moment. I emailed my friend and asked her who the author was, and could I get permission to publish it. She responded that Odawni was in China and was due back in Seattle the following day. Luckily, we were able to make contact, but only after Odawni recovered a bit from jet lag. I received permission from Odawni and a bio late Sunday afternoon, and was able to post it in time for those of you on the other side of the planet to (hopefully) enjoy it with your morning coffee/tea. I am delighted to say that this is her first official publication.

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Odawni AJ Palmer has been writing for most of her life - jotting down verse and words in notebooks, on napkins, airplane sick bags, and anywhere ink will sink. She is working on a compilation of poems and writings from the past 15 years entitled Senescence. She enjoys and garners inspiration from travel, people watching, photography, and from indulgence of the silent moments.

You can read more of her writing and view her photography at her blog: http://kimemeera.wordpress.com/.

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T. Clear, this week's Tuesday Poem editor, is an award-winning Seattle poet who has been publishing her work for more than thirty years. She is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, and works as a production and shipping manager for a Seattle-based glass artist. Her poetry, photography and creative non-fiction can be found at her blog, Premium T.
Please take some time to visit the other Tuesday poets listed on the sidebar!

13 comments:

Kay McKenzie Cooke said...

Nice! I love how the abstract and concrete mix and the grounded quality of the surreal elements. The way it ends is a perfect surprise.

Joanna. said...

This is really quite beautiful. I think the use of repetition really brings it together and I love her descriptive language - "Green eyes of jade". Fantastic!

Kathleen Jones said...

I liked the phrase, in the armpit of a megadune. It was very visual - and just right.

melissashook said...

and more sand
and more sand
and then a love poem.
Thank you.

LentenStuffe said...

Smacks a little too much of Carty's smarmy 'Footprints In The Sand' for my liking.

Claire Beynon said...

How often is this the way? We set out in search of something (or someone) we think we need. Meantime, the thing or person we think we need has assumed another shape. What - or who - comes forward then to meet us? Something wiser and more knowing? So much of what we see and find has an element of mirroring, too? (But perhaps I'm going off at a tangent here? If so, apologies - the poem has me roaming!)

Thank you, T. Clear and Odawni.

Helen Lowe said...

I love the "out-there-ness" of this poem. It's off-beat, in the same way as something like Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', fantastical-- but still comes together into something real at the end. I haven't read "Footprints in the Sand", so can't compare, but I like this one for what it is.

T. Clear said...

Lentenststuffe -- never having heard of "Carty's smarmy 'Footprints in the Sand'", I googled it, and find it hard to even begin to compare the two. Carty's poem is rife with cliches and just plain old worn-out language. I will agree, however, that both poems contain an abundance of sand!

Di said...

Loved this, thanks but your link doesn't work. It's over here: http://kimemeera.wordpress.com/

Tim Jones said...

I had the same reaction as Kathleen - it was the line "folded in the armpit of a megadune" that really stood out for me. That, and the final stanza - lovely. Thank you, poet and poster!

T. Clear said...

Di -- thanks. I fixed it.

Mariana said...

Thanks for sharing this T. Clear and Congratulations Odawni on your first official publication! Best wishes for 'Senescence'.

kimemeera said...

Thank you, all for your kind comments and support! And thank you, Therese, for sharing my work with the world. O