Friday, October 07, 2011

What Color Are Hyacinths?

Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The rain is talking to the back door.
“Pat, pat, pat,” it says, not even listening to itself.
You are coming down the wind, naming
The clouds as you do. The sidewalks reflect
Your footsteps, “pat, pat, pat,” like an old
French song fashioned of late summer and
A piano in a room overlooking the Mediterranean.

Under the leaves of the trees birds huddle
Remarking at how much you look like the rain.
Their badinage is marvelous. They have eighty-
Three different tones for describing the way rain
Looks as it falls upon water, the sea, ponds, lakes,
The rivers, brooks. There is not one that describes
Your coming down the wind. They explode in
Welters of birdsong and squabbling.

All day the sun has refused to look through
The clouds. It had decided to leave the day to
Ducks, swans and the dreams of fish gazing
Toward the sky at the spreading circles of the raindrops,
As if they were a ceiling of water kissing water.
Now it has heard you upon the wind and looks
Through the trees. For a moment the air is draped
In diamonds. They cover you as you roll across
The back of the wind. The air itself inhales.

The rain listens to itself, searching madly for
A language, “Pat, pat, pat,” it says, “Look
Past the wind, look past the wind.” I do.

(first pub. in Where The Stars Are Kept, Rattlesnake Press, 2007)


—D.R. Wagner

It is raining and I am memory.
I am listening to the moments,
Wearing boots and walking just
To hear the sound of splashes
As it wounds the puddles
With the ashes of warm rooms.

It is raining and I am memory,
Sheets of rooster tails turned
Up by automobiles as they tear
The evening apart with headlights,
The hissing of tires in the rain.

It is raining and I am memory
And you are there beyond all this,
Diamonds on your eyelashes,
Sparkles on your lips, a welter
Of words whispered into my ears.

It is raining and I am memory
Washing the edges of the street in sheets
Of weather, smashing into your
Face, naked as water is naked,
All sound and wind fury,
All language reduced to splatters
On the window glass, all rain all memory
Washing like a heart upon the past.


—D.R. Wagner

I am broke to dreaming,
To think your arms around
Me, but thrilled I am of knowing

That the breezes of the ocean
Carry song and carry silver
To the far rooms of the heart.

And I’ll never mention faring
And I’ll never mention tears.
I will myself be walking
In through the small door
Of the years.

This is not much to follow,
If you can but sing you’ll know the way
Or if, of song you are unable,
Then a whistle might be right, they say.

So I’m down the wind tonight.
I thought of you early on
Hoping that, before these words
Got too far and made their own mind
That I might touch you in some way.

I was resting in the high grounds
When I saw you slip away.
I knew that you were sleeping.
I’ll not see you again today.

Three of the blackest of crows
Decide to join me and ask
That I include them in this poem.
So they might have a portent,
If only for a moment,
So that they might feel your arms
And thrill at knowing—so they say.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

What color are hyacinths? she wants
to know, having insisted he make
her pillows “lofty.” The saffron
quilted comforter has aged to buff.
On the wall, framed lambs at play;
she used to call them “frolicsome.”
She doesn't see them anymore.
Out the window is another world
where under leaden clouds the sun
smolders crimson toward day's end.
All night she won't hear the rain.


         for Elihu Burritt, walking from London
         to the northern tip of Scotland
—Taylor Graham

Wind and muddy roads. You shelter from rain
in wayside cottages or under fir-trees.
Heavy walking in the gale. Four miles short
of Inverness, evening coming on; cold wet feet
in leaky boots—you find an inn; settle
by the fire; pull off wet stockings. Outside,
the storm blows wilder. But hot tea never comes.
No oatcake or Scotch scones. Nothing at all
for a traveler, except four more miles of storm.
So dark you can hardly see the road.
Head-wind, drenching rain. At last you
reach Inverness. And here's a temperance inn
to welcome pilgrims, refugees,
whoever's washed up by a storm.


—Taylor Graham

As you paused that day, lost among
the graves—their centuries of bone
and memory, sober church-bells rung—
a shudder-voice as if from stone

surprised you like a visitor
from darker lands, metallic tone
clank-creaking like a spine, to stir
a shudder-voice as if from stone.

A railway whistle, clang of steel
and iron, then a fading moan
of mankind hurtling on a wheel—
a shudder-voice as if from stone.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Caschwa, Sacramento

I lost 59 pounds
In 29 minutes
Gambling at a British pub,
And I never
Gained them back!


Thanks to today's contributors, including the "sneaking-up-on-Halloween" kyrielle from Taylor Graham (see this week's "Forms to Fiddle With" on the green board).

Cleo Griffith writes that she's featured on the Tiger's Eye blog; see her at

New photo album on the Medusa's Kitchen Facebook page: Round Valley by Katy Brown. Makes you want to hop in the car and go there right now!

And Medusa will be off on another adventure this weekend, so we'll be turning off the lights in the Kitchen for a day. Check back in on Sunday a.m.


Round Valley Sky
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
(For more of Katy's photos of Round Valley,
see Medusa's Facebook page.)