—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
Too spring-early still for pied colors—
butter-yellow cups and purple vetch,
lupine in every shade of sky. The fields
are charged with green—dewy clumps of elf
umbrellas, chickweed sprays spiked by
tiny stars. Mottled mosses on oak
open-mouthed to catch the last raindrop
joining just-sprung rivulets in meadow
twined with laceweed. After all this blessed
rain, all we’ve got is green, the leaf,
the hope, the seed.
You told me of those people buried
by avalanche, surviving more than a month.
Were they together in a house, looking
out the windows for so many blank white hours;
hearing, far above them, footsteps as they lay
in the heart of snow? Did they imagine music?
What quality of light? Could they tell Time
passing by the moon filtering through smashed
crystals, changing from waning to dark?
Don’t speak of claustrophobia or a nagging fear
that the village was dancing, having forgotten
them utterly. Did they dream of the butcher’s
dog shoving its nose into hard-pack cracks
in snow debris; inhaling deeply; then
digging for the cold heart of mountain,
their living scent rising like prayer?
FAR FROM THE NEW YORKER
Here in Drought Land, in the season of March
along the dry creek that breaks our fences
after rain, we’ve got a whole vocabulary
of green, enough to fill a biologist’s notebook,
a botanist’s journal: the steeplechase of squirrels
over neon green of leafing oaks, and titmice
gathering bottle-green moss for a nest;
lambs deciphering the verdant script of lana-
vetch lacing humps of native bunchgrass;
thistle-green and mustard-green; blue heron
punctuating marsh-green of a soggy field,
deer that lose themselves in green
shadow—so many shades and textures,
who could name them before they’re gone
by the Ides of May?
DRIVING IN THE RAIN
Through the farm-gate, weather or high water.
Days of rain, fields flooded, driveways mudded
with rivulets mining their cursive ruts. Dry Creek
on the loose, a low gray beast leaping willows,
widening to river, extending its range. Overflow
the bridges? We humans aren’t good at gauging
depth. Edgy life in these foothills, bedrock under
the heavens. Again it starts to rain. And there
in a sodden swale, ghosts of wanderers in search
of familiar ground—more wild turkeys than
I’ve seen in one place. No time to count, already
I’m past. Minding the curves, wipers full blast.
Look, in the rush of March, hush between down-
pours—creatures from a dream, a dozen deer
taking shelter near a house. Bucks and does,
fawns of all sizes. Not much farther to go.
Here’s the meeting place—no one there.
We’ll take our walk anyway. All of the lost
and found, I and my dog and the turkeys,
the deer and the storm.
A BIT OF THE GREEN IN COUNTY CLARE
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
I lived in an old church
A few years back,
Had been St Mel’s
In Fair Oaks, CA.
Mel was the nephew
Of Patrick. Can’t get
Much greener than
That. Mel Lived on a farm
With his Aunt Lupait,
Story goes. We’re
Talking Irish history
Here, can’t get much
Greener than that.
They talked, we Irish
Always do, about
What’s Ireland without
Them? Patrick plodded
Off to County Clare to
Plowing his field
To prove his virtue,
Mel turned up rows
Of salmon in his wake.
Aunt Lopait juggled burning
Coals from the smithy’s
Fire to the kitchen—no
Burns, no scars,
For a juggler. And
They all had a nice lunch.
Patrick, satisfied with the
Greening church in the
West, wiped his mouth
On his monk sleeve—polite,
The patron of the Emerald Isle.
Told his relatives to carry
On, but to keep to the sea,
What was to the sea, that
Which was to the smithy’s
Fire to his fire.
After “Insight” by Joyce Odam
Joyce wrote “what else is there to note and lose before the loss is realized?”
When I awakened from a 10 day coma
After a motorcycle crash
My right thumb was all
Wrapped up like a mummy
Hard to bend
In my boredom I picked at the bandages
Moment by moment
Hour by hour
Day by day
Working them loose
Until someone would have to
Come over and wrap it up
All over again, which they did
Like it was written so
In a bandage bible
Sometime later the bandages
Were intentionally removed
And my thumb tested OK
No explanations were offered
I was just sent home
A chance encounter with a first responder
Who had attended to me at the crash site
Informed me that my thumb had been
All but completely torn off
And then reattached
So I never got to know
The sense of loss
From not having a thumb
That I had had before
When I awakened
—Photo by Taylor Graham
—Ann Privateer, Davis, CA
The lady in gray
Still sits at her window
Sipping from a cup
Bends to the floor
For a fallen object
In the gray building
Across the street.
WALKING ON SUNDAY
—Ann Privateer, Davis, CA
It is so cold today
The brilliant sun
Must be far away,
As I walk, I hug
The buildings, honing
In to the stone's heat
As knees freeze and ankles
Go numb, a collection
Of colors in the street.
The padre says
It describes someone
Unusual, an odd ball
A braggard, what less
being them self?
Every day you write in the journal someone
gave you, a blank volume far too beautiful
to soil with ink. At times your hand shakes
to inscribe your day on the page. Sometimes
you dash your doings off with wild flourish.
Nowadays, just pen-ticks of letters, phrases
held together by ellipses. You close the book
at bedtime and night washes it clean. Eternal
tiding of dreams, waves eroding your shore.
Next day, you write in the journal, the same
page overwriting the day before; effacing
your own name; a palimpsest of mistakes
still shining through, patina of words
rubbed by cuff of shirtsleeve to a sheen.
Many thanks for this morning’s fine, fine buffet of poetry and photos! Be sure to scroll down to the blue box (under the green box) for details of this week's area readings, including Dianna Henning at SPC on Monday, plus two coming up for Saturday (Sr. Readers Speak and the Soft Offs' SPC benefit).