Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Breakable Shadows

The Twins
Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

On this luminous morning painted with a gilded wash—
oaks weighed down by their deep green shadows—
May’s sunrise turns numinous and listening, bleating ewes
bunched close by the fenced garden. All this
growing-waiting pushed from within, a vegetable birth,
a spring. Still, worry hitches as caught breath. Premonition
of what happens—fate, or a judgment—the barren
ewe goes to slaughter, and the prospect for lambs—
they step eggshell-cautious on their breakable
shadows. Safe passage toward another shearing night.


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones, Tehama

He dreamed his almond orchard
tree by tree, purchased
the saplings, patted each
in its hole in the row.

He brooded over the first full season,
snapped a few pink blooms
for his wife the second spring.
Several years of good harvest
followed, his hands learned new skills.

Last week’s heavy storms
churned soil into mud ponds.
Gale winds roared through the orchards,
wrenched out trees by their roots.
Toppled them on their sides,
left them for dead.

He stood behind
streaming glass, watched
his dreams fall, tree by tree.
He wrung those hands
that had learned so much,
wondered, as farmers do
through their lives, if he could
build his dream again.


—Patricia Wellingham-Jones

The young Mexican parents
coo and chortle with their baby,
coax giggles from the little mouth,
finger ringlets of her black hair.

You’d never know
they lost their firstborn,
their beautiful son,
two months ago.

Today they weave
the fragile strands of their lives
across the gaping hole
in their hearts.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

earlier, the storm crashed
flooded the concrete
path outside my studio
puddles reflect sun’s gold
glint clean as your rain eyes
their secrets deep inside
black dirt in sidewalk seams

still vibrating and nauseated from
the bus ride home,
its smells of sickness,
cigarettes, unwashed humanity,
I step around the pools
in this moment’s unnatural stillness—
clarity tinged with gold/amber/sepia
lack of birds’ chatter and keen
back of my neck tenses
all my flesh rises, puckers
each hair a separate alert
above, thunderheads
roil and smoke, black pearl
bass drum gongs, silent
my hearing, now super-acute,
fancies they shout at each other
Get out of my way
edge and bump, locomotives

underneath them, motionless
trapped out of time
in a vacuum, a parallel moment
an alternate schedule
that allows change
broken by a hand larger
than clock, than human
my skin taut,

from deep space whistles
without sound
into air, the invisible vortex

I fish in the vacant box
for my mail, walk back
another night—
you, somewhere else—
I should go in, but linger

the air, before light,
has turned heavy, too warm,
the sun brightened
around racing, dark, massed clouds
which poise, threaten
at any moment
to coil into a fury,
reach down a stark, crooked finger,
hook me up and in
without sentience or regret,
rip apart all vestiges
of my pride, self-reliance, self-respect


—Ann Wehrman

Shall I drink spring water from beaten gold;
fashion a cup from a dew-pliant leaf
or a strip of bark, still fragrant with loam?
You urge me to sew gowns of gold brocade;
embroider in silver, even silk,
cat’s-cradle patterns, royal, elusive, ascending—

instead, I braid chains of autumn leaves;
don frayed, baggy clothes; wrap in threadbare quilts;
eat plain, dark bread; drink my coffee strong—
tired, bleeding, stubborn, faithful,
I must follow the simpler path.


—Ann Wehrman

rain falls above me
like a creek, or spring,
as I sit
in the warm,
quite kitchen

my heart aches for you
to feel your spirit’s nearness

you speak in my mind
so clearly
walk me through
each day’s pain
I feel your caress
as if it were real
your kiss
your deep embrace

I long to be with you
in substance
touch your face
know that
I am not imagining
our love


—Ann Wehrman

loving you, I venture
over unknown waters

my feathers flecked at the tips
by passion
exhausted, intense
I approach the edge
of my desire

still, you draw me
to you
hold me within caverns
of flame
assuage my thirst
tender my germination

I kindle and die
again and again


Today's LittleNip:

The stuff of thought is not caged in the brain but is scattered all over the body...

—Richard M. Bergland


Be sure to join us at The Book Collector tonight
(1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30pm)
as Crawdad Nelson and Maureen Hurley read,
with Richard Hansen hosting. Be there!