Breeze moves hair
red as cedar.
Texture melds thickness
mid-waist, blunt cut;
each strand slips behind bark,
old as she is young.
Face like porcelain, but eyes
this warm have origins
Driven out by the Inquisition,
then a boat to Izmir,
a friendly government
providing land, a tree
and one goat.
Now centuries later
in California, she traveled
a long way
to lean by this tree.
Mist loosens dripping sage.
Ohlone Indians splitting canoes.
In her Levi jacket, she turns
west and cradles the wind.
Along Elk Grove Creek there are
precious bodies of water preserved
for various families of waterfowl
In the dry season these are ponds really,
rather than parts of a moving, flowing stream
mallards waddle, wade, prance, and fly
this way and that way, pausing on the
water to submerge their head, tail straight up
catching a tasty bite near the surface
often with several ducklings close by
Canadian geese congregate with the ducks
like differently named cloud formations
each moving jerkily, deliberately
following the same currents but
answering to a separate calling
and then there are just two egrets, a snowy
white male, and a gray female which the
Canadian geese no doubt see as grey
graceful beyond compare with limited
edition flights that add to their value
workers and family members stream out
of nearby offices and houses, venturing
on the walkway alongside the creek
where they stop and stare at the waterfowl
who themselves fix a rigid gaze on the people
Chicks are in! says the sign out front: bright
letters wedged in between the life-sized plastic
horse and giant dog houses. . . Inside, yellow
and black chicks flutter in a big metal tub: buttery
dandelion-fluffs scratch through fresh wood
shavings as they peep and jostle, lift stubby wings
to the new season. . . An old man stands over
them, stares down into this wavy sea, this wiggly
quilt of puffy down, dotted with buttons of black
eyes. He stands there, then slowly reaches his
wrinkled, calloused hand into the sea of open
beaks and upraised wings, reaches down to lift up
all these eager babies. . .
ON MAY DAY
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Glimpsed a worm
by the May Pole
when I marched
the wrong way
telling the teacher
I'm going to be a poet
but not grow up
and I'm still marching
on marvelous May Day
as the way is righteous
to protect nature
and shelter the animals
when we need
to take broken wingtips
and heal at our bird houses,
our hands are open
for angelic birds and sun
as it is in their sky opening
for us down here
on earth as poet voices
for justice and peace.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
All day the father chips rock,
mortars polished fragments together.
The mother shucks thorns, cuts thistle for stew.
Over glittering shards, meteors
plunge to desert; flyaway spider-lines flung
across cavities and craters, a landscape
worn threadbare to boot-shine.
Shall the child of days, newly fallen
to earth as from a sunrise cliff,
go steel-shod under stars?
he outgrows his shoes.
FINDING THE EDGE
From the garden of reasons
he walked off a marked path,
climbed up to meadow. Voices
of wind piping, of space,
snowmelt finding its way through
At first, his tracks followed
him up the flared fan of mountain;
then fell behind as clouds
gathered over summits, the voices
more insistent; rhythm
and throb of distant thunder.
Ocean's duet with shore
audible, miles above sea-level;
voices of stone skulls buried
under layers of time. He followed
his shadow beckoning
beyond small woods, cliffs
opening on the edge of world.
—Patricia Pashby, Sacramento
In he flies,
for the game to end—
feast of garlic fries.