—Taylor Graham, Placerville
The neighbors said she never had guests. Not
even family. No elephant in the parlor. See-
through walls proved no skeletons in the closet.
But where was she? A child caught a glimpse
of her from desk to hearth, lighting a fire with
written pages as if, once imagined, an image
survived the paper on which it was written.
The house hollow—neighbors say—empty
except for the sound of wings and hooves,
wolves in the hall, crows above the hearth. Or
is that just the mirror effect of glass? Such
a house will never burn but brighter, more
transparent, molten sand-crystal. Neighbors
fear it could spread. Wolf and crow watch
SOMETHING THAT DISOBEYS ORDER
In corpse-pose she considers
dissolution of the body into nothing.
Disparate cells and atoms with no interest
in reunion. Free of ought-to's, no
fiat of social bonding. Birdsong becomes
white noise, or dead
silence. Surrender to chaos. Sweet release. But
an itch in the middle of her forehead.
Irritating. Small but, in the
vacuum of nothingness, huge. How many
eons by time unmeasured before
she can scratch?
FLAGS AND MYTH
for Elihu Burritt at Ashburton, 1864
You left your Civil War behind,
and sailed back to England, your second home.
Even there, you found America at odds;
your countrymen signing tourist guestbooks
“CSA” on the same page with “USA.”
What a thrill, then, to see proudly suspended
over the street of a little Devon town
the Stars and Stripes. Who unfurled it there
from a cottage window? The stars
of every State before Secession. Pondering,
you heard metal on metal. Soldiers
at battle? No. Click of a blacksmith's hammer.
Soul-fellow of another land. You kept on
walking, into the wilds of Dartmoor,
its myths and monsters, its tales of travelers
who never made it out the other side.
the shearer. Clip off that dingy
wool coat, it's much too hot.
Ewe'll feel so cool,
eyes in a stone skull; mellow, for
a ram. Shorn, does he look
safer? Don't turn
as big, now, as its mom sans her
winter fleece, the lamb bleats,
are you still my
is mowed, wind-rowed, put up as hay.
The sheep are shorn. Low sun
I pushed the door ajar—buckram
brown as earth, bound with a warm light
from inside. Not warm—bright. Chilling,
almost. The room full of breathing.
So many animals, each with a look of—
what? intelligence behind the eyes.
The Crow, the Rat, the Bear—or was that
the Man himself who, with his words,
brought each one here? Did he speak
so many languages, or just the one?
All those hungers. How could he tame
the beasts, abiding as host or guest?
Opening wide its mouth as if to speak,
the Bear swallowed whole the Man.
Or was that metaphor? Whose world
was it outside these walls? Within?
This breathing cabin, can it survive
in the woods forever?
Instantly the old orange tiger cat gets up from his napping in a sunbeam
just to stare, wide-eyed
he acts as if there is another world to explore inside the cupboard
just like when I am going to walk through the patio's screen door
and then he has to be shooed back
because he's an "indoor cat" who would be in danger if slipping outside
that in a cupboard he'd just get shut in and trapped
where he can see cats other than his brother and adopted younger sister
maybe play with friends who've already passed away