Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The More I Learn About The Wind...

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


See this wet-mop hung out to dry?

Look closely. Just a mop.

Now see this basin of water—

once-used salvage-water from the shower,

nothing more. Inspect it carefully.

Just water.

But now I dunk my mop in the basin,

Abracadabra, here’s a frog!

Isn’t that magic?

That’s what a dried-up pond
will do, will drive the frogs of drought

to a mop in search of water.

Magic! how he hops—no, a dancer’s leap

on wings of amphibious legs—

from basin to kitchen floor, and out

the deck-door, still in search

of green and a decent pond of water.



You can smell it on the air.
No wind to disperse the smoke,
or float ash our way.
You chart the fire’s progress—
flames still distant,
but no promises.
How many canyons over?
How decadent the woods in need
of thinning, how tinder-dry
the chaparral.
Smoke fills the valley,
curls in canopies of oak, every corner
and corridor. I’ve got smoke in my shoes
and smoke in my head.
It smells of dragon breath
on the manzanita trail where I walked
in a sepia cloud;
over the rim of burned-out hills,
where my dog tested the air
that smelled like nothing could survive
but chimneys—the headstones
of houses.
It’s how you smelled, coming home
after a week of trying to save
a forest; trees in skeleton
on that ridge we used to hike—
where fireweed pushed up
through char the dragon left behind;
its seeds still alive. 


Air draws around us yellow and thick

as a comforter. The sun blood-orange  

stares down, aloof as hope for autumn.

Hot dry summer fog of distant fires—

smoke—the sky swallows our earth

in clouds, air so thick and yellow

in the lungs, we breathe light burning

its way closer to home. This insistence

of light. Last year’s ashes lie as if dead

in the wood-stove, waiting for a wind.  



That useless acre,

once a place for making mortar,

abandoned—just ruins

where tarweed bloomed end-of-summer yellow

in the dry-weed fields

and the heat-hush of July gave way to shivers

from the pits,

the free-standing walls—bones

of a white fortress, a place to play at rescue

from the mine, setting loose the prisoner

out of time;

for never-grownup dreams

of dungeons, high adventure,


a safety hazard 

graded flat and graveled,

its white-block pillars

gone forever.



a single light shines through twisted woods.

A bumpy drive to get here, as if dodging

unexploded grenades. No idea why we came

this way. And here’s the little lamp we glimpsed,

a Coleman lantern. A man in green camo bends

over something that gleams. Could this be

Robin Hood spreading the day’s spoils? A rich

man’s ring, a bag of silver to feed the country-

side for a week? No, he’s opening a tin

of sardines. No silver coin anywhere. Just

another homeless rousted out of town, caught

sleeping on the sidewalk or the stair.


Almost fall, and all the trees are tinged

with tarnish, but breathing in a brisk north breeze

that dries what’s still alive, makes long-dead

grasses in a vacant lot bend to breeze strumming

as if unwrapping promises of change

in weather. I’ve followed my three dogs

on trail, watching how they braid the grass

with long-line from their harness,

with the wind, and scent blown in eddies

at a wall, a complex weave

that takes my dogs in variable curves and arcs

but steady to their quarry—the friend

hiding unseen in thicket

where a mainstream breeze won’t go.

My dogs in their triptych way

go on weaving his scent into a braid

invisible to me, an ever-changing flow.

I think, the more I learn

about the wind, the less I know. 

Today’s LittleNip:


Ripple on ripple she rayed the colors—
incomplete rainbows, not believing
in ends, or pots of gold. Blues and furors
of yellow, greens against the thieving
of Time. A glitch, a flash out of fog—
the teacher shook his finger. No,
you can’t have rocks or a squint-eye frog
in crystal pools.
It helps the water flow,
she said. She wouldn’t fix her art.
Eye of glowing color in a mask of dark.


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for today's fine poems and pix, including her photos of the Butte fire.