Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Don't Call It Diamonds

First Rose
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


1. Apple Fall:

Less than a nubbin twig-clinging in April breeze.
The sheep have counter-clockwise wended from
oak shade to swale below this lone apple tree
with its single surviving apple. February bluster
blew every other blossom from the tree. Sheep
have had their fill of grass for now, and lie
beneath the tree meditating on sweetness. Their
physics is rumen of the universe: when will Fate
on this one apple call? The sheep arise, not
thinking how an apple ripens into rot, or Adam
lost an Eden in its fall.

2. Emerald City of the West Pasture

So green it hurts the eyes. Wizard’s-
gaze green. Days of rain dissolved dust to
mud of the gray-brick road, till we hardly
believed but Winter. Now just look.
Silver-lode the creek rushes
quirk-wise between banks of bull thistle
that blossomed from black cloud.
Sun dazzles every blade of grass, each
green-fingered hand of buckeye
leafed out ahead of time. All we see
is green, so Spring it blinds us.

3. April 3

I was the gray squirrel
limb-leaping oak to power-line,
zapped, fried as the lights went out.
I was the new lamb lifted
so high beyond herself
in the night of horned-owl talons.
I was the acorn woodpecker
snapped mid-flight, crimson
crown, bright-white windows of his wings
still spread for sky.
Who am I
when all these parts of me die?

4. Violet-Green Fledging:

A double-fast heart beats its tattoo against
the nest-cup of grass and feathers, urges it to fly.
Not fly—it soars.
At a confluence of creeks soon to be summer-
dry, above knock-your-eyes-out green
of springtime pastureland,
on back-swept wings, it soars and swallow-
swoops, zinging insects in flight—
flashing iridescent blue-green-violet
as if a tiny bird encompassed
water, earth, and sky. 

 Pink Rose


The ewe never wanted to be a mother.
For a month she nursed her baby—black
with a pale wool fringe of comfort
on its back. Now she’s had enough. She lies
in spring grass. But here comes that girl-
child, up against her mother’s flank,
pawing with cloven hoof. Pawing, again
and again. A lamb learns to forage
on her own for April’s God-given green.
Is she asking for a mother-nudge? Not milk.
A nuzzle. What could sheep know of love?



An old story. He meant to take a walk
up the trail, lighting it with the glass lens
of his camera so he could bring it back home
for supper. How could either of them
know, as he caught it all in his viewfinder—
waves reaching out to sea
to where horizon joins sky with water,
breakers far below the cliff
on which he stood focusing—he would
walk off the edge of this world?

 Pink Roses


The dream didn’t like walls. It woke me
with the words repeating in my head as dreams
do: Just keep walking! If I walked far enough—
right through the walls webbed with bleared
windows, cages and chains, sag of a shag floor—
I could close the door behind me to all those
wails. The old trick-knee, aching shoulders.
Pass seamlessly into the realm of light. Rubbish,
I said, and went back to sleep. But then
I dreamed of running in bare feet over spur-
roads in search of my self—like that lady lost
picking mushrooms in the wrong season.
How foolish. The dream had me running wild
rings around the rosy. It said Just keep running!

 Miner's Lettuce, End


My all-too-real garden bursts
with overwintered mint gone wild,
foxtails ripening their awns where I’d plant
tomatoes. Time for pitchfork and hoe,
weeding and turning soil. Watch
for imaginary toads. The frogs are real,
luxuriating in leftovers of the morning’s dew.
Don’t call it diamonds, it’s far more
precious. Water.


Today’s LittleNip:


It takes skill to turn off the hype. What’s another
synonym for wench, sleaze, rabble-rouse? How
the pundits gleam in almost super-natural ecstasy
at the never-so-off-the-motel-room-wall quality
of debate. How separate ourselves from the criss-
cross campaign trails? find a quiet path
through brambles and knee-high April grass,
a vacant lot where wind blows the trash away.


—Medusa, with many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s lovely April poems and pix!