In grassy fields with lots of gnats
where prairie longspur sing and nest
and bask in warmth of summer seas,
she gathers daisies in her dress
and presses them against her breast,
crushing each with gentle ease
releasing petals to the breeze.
BIRDS ON WING
—Carol Louise Moon
Several nights I heard the black-billed
magpie sing. The bluish notes filled
spaces in between; the whitish stars
glowed faint besides. Plucky nightjars
snatched up greenish bugs on wing.
With gaping mouths, they did not sing.
—Carol Louise Moon
Notable herbs with potent spells
nosegays of lavender, thyme and mint.
Never enough time;
not enough men. The women
needle-and-thread sachets. The
name of a sweetheart comes to mind:
Nearer my god to thee, it is hoped.
"Look at the grey tree..."
Her leaves hold fast to limbs
of cosmetic leathered bark.
Her roots are hidden deep
beneath the soil.
You are welcome here,
welcome to breathe in your own
release. Do not inquire
of the myrtle regarding her roots,
nor volunteer achievements,
your failings underpinnings of
You can only guess
what she must be standing on.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I keep ending up here among boulders,
a maze of game-trails on the hill’s
precarious backside. Sun’s overtaken
by shadow. It’s a place of its own magic,
full of treasure. A heap of old tin cans
glows red with rust, expiating
shade of old history, dried blood. Here’s
a lost pocketknife washed from soil
by last week’s storm; bottles
burned blue as sky.
The year’s first lizard skitters
from under a rock. A leafless oak
blossoms with a hundred blackbirds
singing their early-calling
sweetest song, filling this stony
place with the first chorus of spring—
whether we deserve it or not.
The moon played its etudes
above clouds which became falling snow.
We were camped
a long dirt way from the county road.
Something woke me at midnight,
as if music, yet I heard
nothing but snow on tent-flap, a ripstop
breeze. Amazing illumination,
the landscape glowed under one bright
eye, door to a universe:
didn’t move, but stared down
through snowclouds diffused in falling
snow. The music, frozen breath
of a girl-ghost singing
her cold, everlasting childhood.
The sky dawned
clear, the comet gone.
From his heart, a thimbleful of exaltation
bursts into the dappled winter morning.
Doubled in the surface of a puddle,
the jay casts forth joy
with every drop of water
that he shakes from his wings.
He settles into the bath, splashing
it over his back, over his head
then shakes the water from his feathers.
He is a greedy bather, uncaring
that a camera watches behind the glass door.
Rain. Rain and the water that collects:
—the ground breathes gratitude;
trees sigh in relief; and this little bird
sloshes and splashes in utter joy.
the life we learn with,
and the life we live with