—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I used to think everything happened
in daylight. I loved to walk
past the outskirts, the clapboard
houses drenched with weather
where a truck rested up on blocks
and chickens puttered 'round
and underneath, pecking
with chicken hysteria at what
for all I knew might be
ball bearings, as minivans sped
by, headed for the city.
I'd keep walking the other way
as things got more and more
derelict until human signs
disappeared beyond the gravel
shoulder littered with glass.
If I saw a twitch of sun-made-bird
I'd say yellow warbler for lack
of better things to call it,
never wondering what the birds
inside their thickets
became in the hollows of night,
or what happened in the
clapboard insides of lives.
IN THE HOLLOW OF NIGHT
The body at last asleep, the rest is free
to roam among the rooms
where fifty words for “wonder”
are stored like study-skins in a museum.
In the hollow of night, Moon gazes
at his/her reflection in the window,
suffusing Earth in a red
forged-metal, a silver-fairy glow.
In the hollow of night, those sleepless
selves slip from the sheets
to sing praises the body
could not repeat. Look, there it sleeps.
I WONDER WHY THERE ARE PEOPLE
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The stars are in a hurry. The sky winds
Around them and tells the moon a slick
Story about how they used to have to explain
Themselves every morning when the night
Folded itself like a handkerchief and went back
To waiting, white ships struggling at anchor
In a dream.
While we are not terribly thirsty, the water
From the well tasted refreshing, reminding us
Of a lovely room just off the kitchen in a quiet
Cottage, near the edge of a small river, cookies
Were baking in the next room. We watched
The stars. It wasn’t an easy moment.
Nothing was make-believe. It may have been
beautiful but it had teeth that could bring a horse
To the ground had it wanted to.
There was obviously too much to lose here.
Night was arranging its shiny coat again. Leaves
Looked for directions from the wind. The moment
Was not our own, nor was it that of the stars.
This will come to you in dreams. It will seem
So real. You will be able to put on your glasses
And it will still seem real, a massive room of stone
Filled with the world flickering like bats leaving a cave.
We will want to go back. We will want a good bed.
We will want to see our loved ones again.
Let us change our clothes and wash the blood
From our hands, listen to the sleepy sound
The trains make at the far side of the landscape.
Perhaps they will not see us here. Pretend you
Are sleeping. A gentle breeze stirring the leaves.
The wide sweep of the heavens. It is so strange
And wonderful to be alive. Why does no one come here?
Just beyond here there isn’t much
Water at all. It is a desert but we don’t
Think of it as such. It is
Just a place we don’t visit often, no
One we know very well lives there.
South of that there are mountains.
They have a lovely blue-green hue to
Them in the mornings sometimes and when
It rains they seem to float just off the ground,
Catch clouds in their shadows and glow evenings.
You can travel toward the lake for hours
Without seeing a thing but the greens
Will give it away. The greens and the way
The air replaces everything we were worried about.
It is like magic I guess. What do you know of magic?
I am going to point to the place we will try
To attain before this evening comes upon us.
You will know the place. You’ve been there
Before. Just before you get there children
Will line the sides of the roads with flowers
In their arms and toss them to you. You will
Know this and still be surprised that it happens.
I’m going to try to get there myself before
Any more news reaches us, so we can see
What is happening rather than just hear about it.
Let’s plan to meet where the highway bends
Back toward the village. I’ll wait for you if
You discover you are having a hard time
with all the directions or are having car trouble.
His moments of solitude were the paving stones on the road to his vanishing.