I can’t find the place on a map
so I’ll follow my dog. He has no fear of dragons
beyond our known world, printed
in two dimensions on a topographic quad.
But he listens
to uncanny howls before the dim of dawn.
Is it wind running wild
beyond outskirts of the last dark town?
Or is it wolves? My dog listens
ears pricked, as if the howling were directions
to a point where two trails meet
then go their separate ways.
A hollow oak whistles low with songs of wind,
or is it wings of the nighthawk?
Or is it wolves?
Years ago the tree sluffed off its bark
in runes that I can’t read.
My dog resumes his course.
Landscape: schoolyard on a Sunday morning
empty, you might say featureless, as I walk
my dog. Here’s the court where on a school day
kids shoot hoops, globetrotter loop-de-loops,
maintaining balance not even thinking how
to adjust their shots for astronomical facts,
the spin and wobble of Earth under Nike’d feet.
My dog gets into everything with his nose. Life’s
a contact sport, collisions of unseen energy—
like the butterfly in flight, making waves and
ripples to change our world. My dog dithers
from leaf to grass-blade, each swelling scent
I’m blind to. Regrets or no, every footstep leaves
its print, invisible dint on solid ground.
The school’s named for our town’s most famous
poet, who rhymed his lines in linked circles,
gathering it all in to the center.
Did he come to listen to the trees?
A cathedral of rocks,
tall pines in a natural circle, cedars’
incense on silence of a breeze.
We walked the river down, calling
as if he’d answer.
We heard nothing but the water
Murmuring over its stones.
Your dog lifted her nose
and turned aside, tail wagging slow,
under vaulted green arches.
A pure blue sky opened like a rose
window to light, its rays
stitching the world back together.
His room has no ceiling, just the ceiling fan.
He stops strangers on the street
to tell them, I have a ceiling fan. It spins
perfect arcs of air in a certain slant of sunlight.
He goes to sleep to your stories
of walking the stars so they flash silver
tongues in the twirl of winter’s night-sky.
To dry his sorrows, you tell him
the pasture sprinklers—
those whirligigs of wet light suspended
yet swirling—are really
Earth giving back the tears that sky wept.
The other things he sees
you’re blind to: circuitry that links sprinklers
to fans to wind chimes to solar flare,
systems he may invent
in your physical world if he can just
get through first grade.
The pond is real, but only its skin
is truly blue by virtue of a cloudless sky.
Below the surface brown, shallow,
bottomed with mud. And still the ripples
arc away seeking a distant shore.
In summer no sign of rain. The pond goes
rippling away, less of it each day,
evaporating like breath. In reflection
trees bend to reach for sky, leaves
A stone stays.
Quartz glitters in fall light,
recommends silence, the loneliness of stones;
dry creek sipping long-gone water
in a wind’s murmur-song. What if rain leaves
Earth alone? Sun sublimates
the birdbath, too shallow a trough. What matter,
a decade of drought? Stones recall
the long tales. These young creek-banks,
undercut each time a flood tears out fences,
overwhelms the swale, digs up old bones.
Ancient naturalist, this stone.
Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.
—Medusa, thanking Taylor Graham for today’s rock-solid poems and pix!