—Katy Brown, Davis
Somewhere in Turkey
a white cat
are best friends.
On a stony beach
beside a distant lake,
these two share food
and a romp on the shore.
look on—as if waiting
for an impending kill
—surely, the fox
will kill the cat.
Surely, they will both
turn and kill the gawking birds.
Like a pair of tourists
from vastly different backgrounds
meeting on a foreign shore,
these two find something exotic
and compelling in the other.
Like Dutch and Lithuanian,
the languages of cat and fox,
no longer matter.
The lexicon of attraction is spoken
through expression in the eyes
and in proximity of body to body.
One can parse the intransitive play
in all its forms
and never uncover the full affection
shared by any two divergent souls.
Somewhere in Turkey, along a lake
where tourists watch the fishermen,
a white cat and a winter-grey fox
prove the unlikely paradox of attraction.
DUSK ON LAKE HURON
The lake is flat as far as I can see
— flat like foil, crumpled
then smoothed out again: slightly crushed.
Light and shadow dice in waves
— draw the eye toward
a dead-level fading horizon.
Once in a while, a tanker creeps
— glacially-slow across the line of sight;
and the water seals-up behind it.
That’s the essential nature of the lake
— water sealing pathways under the surface;
concealing even the trace of passage:
hiding where entire ships have vanished
— all hands clawing under water
and the water swallowing them whole;
hiding where a child slipped overboard
— off the family’s sailboat
and dropped to the bottom like a shell;
hiding where lovers lingered
— concealed by starlight on midsummer,
conceiving a springtime miracle.
So many small and major passages
— erased by wind on water and left
only as a trace in memory. . . .
THE PURPLE HEART FLUTE
Aging wood darkens to lilac-rose,
The regulator, secured with a deer hide thong,
is a carved pine bear with turquoise bead eyes
positioned to watch the player.
See the beauty of the workmanship;
feel the rhapsody of wood.
Unmoving air surrounds the wood.
Inanimate air fills the barrel of the flute.
Without warm breath, this wood
is but a hollow branch, retaining the memory
of the sound of wind among trees;
the sound of water trickling through stones.
A simple breath re-animates the flute,
gives back the voice of the shadowed forest.
They might be poets—
dressed with flowers under painted skulls,
attending the mass for the dead.
Fiesta music winds around gravestones.
The living dance among angles
—ghosts, silently listening.
Today, living metaphors speak in the forked tongue
of symbol and contradiction:
I am the bounty of orange blossom
and the corruption of rotted fruit.
I am skin
and the marrow underneath.
I am the flickering candle
and the trail of smoke from a blown wick.
(for Margaret Atwood's birthday Nov. 18)
The nightfall sky
fades by rain
where your nature
still reaches out to us
on our shadows
in an Autumn repose
of dissolving darkness
with your mysterious
presence of language
flies like the mourning bird
will return to us as new life
with its clairvoyant
voice by the woods
where wan memory
the earth-wise who read you.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Loki presents me with
a bone. A favorite old bone
from the butcher, honed by her
teeth. Quite hollow. Polished,
devoid of marrow. She rolls
her spine over it, and grins.
She stares as if it held
mysteries. She stares at me.
Look! See! The leg bone’s
connected to the
knee bone. I kneel to pick it
carefully up to my eye,
gaze through it. It’s a monocle,
a singular spectacle,
telescope to other worlds.
Cross-section of some creature’s
shank, this bone glistening
with stars. I blow through it,
exhale breath into wind
in her dog-face. Scent-music.
She has no words but wonder.
We’re following the way you went. My dog
chooses our path, a billion scent-fragments
scattered along rough dirt track; and then,
surprise, onto the new concrete ramp—an oval
spiral into sky. Such shining. A gateway
over-pass from main-street to the northern hills.
Four lanes of transcontinental highway cut
between. Falling is everywhere below. My dog
gazes over the edge at traffic. I gaze across
rooftops—courthouse growing smaller
as my dog gains momentum; ahead, the old,
odd frame houses planted among oak trees
on the hill. A hawk rising, wings bright
as angels. Everything shining morning-light.
Once I saw a picture of giraffes swimming
in waves of water, or maybe clouds—a sleep-
scape unreal as mind afloat in its unconscious
sea. I woke, remembering something I’d read:
horses driven into the sea to save a doldrum’d
ship, drowning in waves. No dream; a tragedy.
Was it historic, actual, real? On last night’s
news—as prophecy-for-real—a coastline
submerged in rising sea, beachfront property
dissolved in waves. Clouds as waves: when
will it rain? Waves of tiding, merciful heartless
weather, real/unreal as the endless sea.
Morning’s less than half-light
through a dream-door not quite closed yet.
Breeze-fingers on a fret
of song outside; grass wet with dew.
Your window waits for blue,
for whatever’s not new, not old—
time’s treasuries that hold
a well of stories told again,
again. Here’s paper, pen,
and fancy. There’s the wren of song,
flicking her tail. What’s wrong
with you? Come sing along, she says.
Light zings along the power-line
and sparkles live-oak leaves and dead
leaves on the grass. The air sings.
Who needs special effects?