—Taylor Graham, Placerville
You sprint down the hall, catch it on the third
ring. Muffled voices, as from a great distance,
across oceans, unintelligible background
murmur, maybe another language. No doubt
someone wants to infiltrate/fix your computer,
the Windows PC that you don’t have. A stifled
sneeze. And then, more clearly, “Can you hear
me? This is George. We’re on our way by horse
and buggy, all seven of us crammed in with
the cat. Tippy runs alongside. Couldn’t afford
the train. We hope to be there by Saturday if we
have no accident. We rest on Sundays. They say
California is golden.” The line went dead before
you could ask. George who? From what century?
what state? which branch of a family that never
called long-distance nor told the whole story?
The phone rang at midnight, a waking
voice at the other end, a summons
to look for another lost.
An old woman went to pick mushrooms
in the whisper-woods
dark now, spiderwebs
glisten green by cyalume light-
stick. Webs hold every thing together,
connecting branch to vine to punky log.
My boot on dead-fall leaves. Twig-
crack. Remember. Tonight forest ghosts
trespass the divide. Are they searching
Call a lost name; listen.
An owl. Green-wand lightstick
floats through the dark: my partner
in dog disguise.
I in the mask of my self.
When the government of the mind
shuts down, he goes wandering, remembers
an oilcan in a stranger’s woods he
happened into; goats on someone’s hillside;
stolen stars; a friend who found himself
in trespass on the People’s river
after they locked the gates, dead-bolted
the free-flow of everything
but wind and dreams; they’ll outlaw those
next session. He’s had too many
years of bills and phone calls to drive him
out of his domain, himself.
Today he’ll go wandering beyond
the posted fences, traveler lost to an outlaw-
wind lamenting the wild this morning.
Yin-yang quality of light
just outside our window, tilting
a slightly crested head as if
listening to fluorescence here
at our computers; as if remarking
her own plain-lovely presence
in reflection, pressed into glass;
light returned gracefully to her;
as dark snow on a full-moon
pale lawn. Here’s time to study
each perfect detail of feather,
black and white habit of grace.
Now flown, not gone.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Cold groves of sequoias. Your hand in mine, ensuring
our icily spiral climb turns by slow footfalls.
Upended, the odd giant victim-tree, whose root-ball’s
all snowburst spike: can blasts freeze into enduring?
Truer, more secret endurance instills the live trunk.
A narwhal strength-of-tusk stability
(“unicorn” horn-swirl torsion) nulls fragility.
Sequoias in skyward spiral design can link
sunbeam to soil. Long thoughtlike chains, intrinsic
twists drink in a great dark that dispenses light.
O’Keeffe with her vulviform flowers, mystics, eccentrics…
such sequoia-like seekers envelop our quest for insight.
My whirling-out, restrained by your deepening-down
—the transparent aspiring kind of dark suction down.
(first pub. in truenature, Tom's chapbook from Poet's Corner Press, 2006)
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
—Tom Goff, 2013
What to say of these rifled shapes
that ease so peaceably into the kingdom?
And what to say of you, who disappear
every time I ache to share?
If I fled all my work, all the lesser burdens
keeping me grave and rooted, would it be
among these clouds—among the sequoias
twisting like verses, torqueing and soaring
into the forests of the immortals—I might
find you, my brighter than June sky?
Scuffing red dust from sunlight,
as if we injured a moth’s wings, bruising
the gargantuan tree-sides just patting gently
where the orange bark is most sponge-tender:
is there anything that might distinguish
ungiant us from the “walk-plants”
eight-year-old Helen Keller termed all humans?
Right now, some walk-plant bellows echo: nice kids,
missionary clean. Just maybe not conscious kids.
Their voices too are forest. Listen: it’s thicket,
close at hand yet way beyond. And oh:
a branch-straddling raven sings: the clack
of two wet stones kissing. Drumsticks lightly
clip a temple block. Oh, you. Oh, you.
I try anywhere to find you. And see you
only in the gold motes the red dust raises.