—Katy Brown, Davis
You would think the stones could speak,
they are set in such an enigmatic circle—
as if they were passing around a secret.
They appear to have responded to someone,
long ago, who waltzed them up
from the valley below and left them here.
Coming upon them suddenly,
you pause just outside the fence.
Autumn has burned the bracken
on the hilltops, leaving brown patches
in the green distance. Sheep have
cropped the grass around the rocks.
This is not the biggest circle,
nor is it made up of the largest stones.
Yet it radiates the power of age.
The sun-warmed rock seems almost living;
but your palm can feel no pulse. There is
no recognition from the stones that you exist.
You are of no more consequence
to these ancient monoliths than
a butterfly pausing on lichen.
A shaft of sunlight through
The gray shaped like a dagger
And sharp as the day that
Made it throw itself this way.
We had been out moor walking,
Running the tales one into another
Until it was impossible to tell
Where we had been, unhouseled
And full of words gone gray
In that they were seldom said
Until we pushed beyond the sight
Of towns and felt ourselves
Somehow part of a past we had
Read about or dreamed.
We would walk for hours. Sometimes
A song or some small grass or flower
Would catch our eye and we would
Make discussion as if such activity
Would make us wise, for we felt
Wise in the place and were reluctant
To traipse our way below the hill
Again to find a cup of tea,
A fire glowing in a hearth reminding
Us again of stone, of landscape
And of time, her dusky dress appealing.
TEARS FROM A DRAGON
I held the tears from a dragon
pure from the waterfalls of Rascløn
He cried to me, he begged to me
He was crying and whining.
I was baffled and confused
He was bruised from the inside out.
His heart was broken and destroyed
the fire no longer burned within
He was all out, he didn’t want to try
He said killing people was not alright.
So buckets fell from his eyes
but it was his medieval voice
that drowned me out.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
I thought I spoke to you.
I thought you more in the room,
That there was religion in
There with you, a melting into a wall,
Something divine that we would
Have no control over.
And indeed, it was everything
That was not you. I could hear
You weeping as you walked along
The beach trying so hard to be
A monk, anything holy.
I thought I could feel you
Touching me and that you made me think of
You naked and moving over my body,
Except my thoughts could find
No mirror, there was no laughter,
Just the clicking as the wind moved
The door slightly open, then slightly
Closed, almost aimlessly with
The rule being we were to notice
The differences and make something
Deep and important of it all.
THE POWER OF PRAYER
The police will come and arrest
You if you talk like that.
Even if no one can hear you
They will come and certainly ask
You what you think you are doing?
And you will go into the other
Room and try to recall when
It was you arrived here, what
Your english teacher was trying to
Explain about Gargantua or
Henry David Thoreau or why
There were so many people in the room.
Where did all of these stories come from?
They will tire of your long
Answers and constant stopping,
Starting again. You will talk
About the trains. They will take
You for someone who intends hard.
You will be modeling the Holy Spirit
But no one will notice.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
A small bay mare waits under saddle,
flicking her black tail
at flies—ink-lines written on air.
Which of four long-journey travelers
may arrive, asking for a mount?
Will that rider let the reins lie easy
on her neck, let her choose direction
across the hills? Letters in her saddle-
bags like rubies in a leather purse,
carried step by hoof-step over
granite that makes its own light, strike
of metal shoe on stone. Stories.
At day’s end, he’ll let her graze
the night, release her to dream, to lower
herself onto silicate-crystal and roll
the saddle-itch away. He’ll wake
to moonlight and wonder at the silver
mare looking down on him
from a high rock. Things too true
to happen; images to carry him
out of season, the rest of his way.
A tree grows
A tree knows
A tree leans
but never too far,
to one side.
Our thanks to today's contributors, including Katy's photos from her past visits to England. D.R. has been busy dreaming about tornadoes; check out his blog at drsspoon.blogspot.com for more about that.
And if you were planning to attend the Squaw Valley all-star benefit poetry reading this Friday at the Crocker, but you haven't gotten your tickets, you're out of luck. Thanks to the generous nature of NorCal'ers, tickets are sold out!