THE JADE CHALICE
thinner than the apex
of a curling wave:
a bowl of polished aqua
rimmed with silver
on a silver stem,
fragile as moonlight.
Dust has forgotten
the anonymous artist.
Art has forgotten
how to select the rock,
how to curve the jade
into a lens of stone
to read poems through.
—Katy Brown, Davis
A new dinosaur clawed its way
through ancient Utah sandstone
into the dragonfly-blue sky—
imagine a retriever-sized hunter,
born to track, driven to kill—
armed with kriss-sharp claws,
hatched with the drive
of a serial killer turned lose
in a land of grass-eaters.
They found its skeleton
in layers of stone with
bits of feather sealed in amber.
Broken talons uplifted
for hunting? for battle?
A mystery frozen in time—
small killer, broken and preserved
in barren Utah sandstone
—all but the blood.
In the grocery parking lot, a small dun mare
waits under saddle, reins looped to light-
stanchion—sundial on asphalt as shoppers
come and go. She flicks an ear, shifts weight
from one hind leg to the other, waiting.
The man who rides her is buying some small
item. He'll stow it in the saddlebag,
untie the reins, mount with a hitch. He's
no longer young. Jacketed against weather.
I've seen them on the highway shoulder,
slowing rush hour traffic as if they had no
deadline. But autumn's here and winter's
coming; the bit of scrubby oak woods
where the homeless once kept their camp
is iron-barred shut. I'd walk the trails,
nodding at folks who used to have jobs,
doctor appointments, soccer games. What
fields does a homeless horse graze? The mare
stands speechless as a history of horses.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
These September nights
between swelter and chill, my dreams
hybridize: an ark full of spoiling melons,
tomatoes too ripe to touch;
blue porcelain teapot to steep a winter's
stars; one heraldic griffin (extinct)
and two donkeys, token of survival
no matter what.
An aunt dead for decades adds
a crocheted coverlet to hoist
for smoother sailing. But I toss off
bedding in my sleep and wake up
grateful for daylight of any season.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
When left to find my own device
I seek that place behind my eyes
Where I can hear the distant cries
Of seasons changing. Each one unties
Its packages and spreads its wares
Upon the earth until it bears
That swift resemblance named by time, flares
Of memory, paths of vision, tears
Across the fabric of what we call years.
The white of Winter, green of Spring tears,
The hot, sweet breath of Summer. Autumn clears
The perfect path with red, ochres and browns,
As if the world were flame and we were clowns
Called to play upon its lurid stage, bound
By its sudden brightness built of color, light and sound.
Let us watch the Fall unfold,
Unwind around us and explode
Into the pocket time assigns our sweet brief gold,
Before the year begins to bend,
To flicker, to grow old.
AUTUMN AND THE RIVER
How quickly we forget the river,
Its shining arc and weave across
The land, tumbling, so disturbed,
Through the rapids, cutting its sharp
Angle, turning nearly ninety degrees
And hurrying toward the lake, wearing
The sun as if it invented light.
We see it again in dream,
Contained in floating, transparent
Balls that could be memory, or could
Be the signals our own breathing
Gives the autumn.
We find our way over the gorge edge,
Descending through mixed hardwoods and scrub,
Lockport dolomite, scree, to a brief horizontal
Shelf and then the quick water seven feet
Below rushing by so fast it is all breath can do
To keep up with its insistence.
We find the rhythm only for a moment,
Become transparent and hover
In the bright Autumn light, suddenly a window,
A perfect open corridor that leads
Straight to the heart.
Knowing is not enough; we must act. Willing is not enough; we must do.