—Sue Crisp, Shingle Springs, CA
Green leaves turning into colors
of flame and gold.
An October delight, long waited
One by one autumn’s trees are
stripped of their quivering fiery leaves.
They slowly drift to the ground below,
piling up like autumn snow.
Soon October will take its toll,
as its blustery breezes begin to blow.
Branches tremble under October skies,
as they become naked and bare, and
they no longer have their dazzling flair.
Now they slumber through the winter,
until spring comes again
and gives them a reason
to start nature’s new season.
I’m walking through the dense forest in a
dream-like state, listening, feeling what it
has to tell me, winter’s white blanket
crunching under my feet.
There is the sighing of ailing trees
with bowed branches laden with fresh,
heavy snow. I feel their struggle to stand
upright and reach for the sky.
Bright, warm sun or blustering wind could
free them and end their despair. I whisper to
them, soon, soon, it will be over soon, and
hope someone on high has heard my promise.
Shivers of sharks cruise the cool
depths of the bay. Gliding silently
through clear aqua water. Un-
blinking, slitted, cold eyes, on track
for any sign of prey seeking refuge
among the jagged coral reefs. Pred-
ators from a prehistoric age, on the
prowl for what the sea offers, what
Fins of silver flash,
once calm seas boil in the chase,
red, stains the white foam.
JUST ONE MORE
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
She moved away out here to get away
from people, from a job that buried her under
other people’s problems. We’re rural here.
She settled in a place with barn and corral,
got a horse but doesn’t ride. Adopted a dog
and two barn cats plus one for the house.
Added some pens and got a nanny goat,
two sheep, one pig, two hens, a rooster and
a husband but like most other humans
he had his problems. Before long he was gone.
She put out grain for wild turkeys, a saltlick
to lure in deer. Jackrabbits who ravage gardens
here and there. Coyote keeps to edges,
hawk to thermals and the owl to dark. Toward
midnight, the most blood-curdling cry
from her direction. Husband back with
a gun? No country home’s complete without
a peacock screaming murder.
DOWN IRON MOUNTAIN ROAD
a car was parked in the eastbound lane—long long
convertible wide open to the sky. I caught a blast of country
western achy-breaky, and a gent in boots and Stetson
two-stepping his ruffle-skirted lady in the eastbound lane.
Dancing, right there in the lane of traffic.
I was doing 50 westbound but I took a second look.
Were they real?
Already far behind me, out of sight.
I knew that car from growing up. Every Saturday
a neighbor washed his blue ‘53 Plymouth,
3-speed manual. It meant nothing to me. Why I kept
its image in my mind for 50 years, who knows.
Somewhere behind me, bound east
against the sun, a car stopped
out of my childhood, stopped against time
passing. And I kept driving on.
What a notion, grazing the river as if
we’d gone back wild in evolution, animals
hungry for the raw elements. We’re groveling
sand and gravel, drenched to the knees,
grubbed and scraped, swirling a bit of silt and
water in a shallow pan like washing dirty
dishes—what the river brought down in the last
big storm. Are we hoping for the big strike?
I woke up out of a dream—
earth’s big-bang reverberating in the blood,
rushing downriver like arriving on a midnight
train; adrenalin knocking the heart awake.
Look! over the river, dozens of dragonflies,
wings of black and white, pure light and dark
dancing ripples of moving water. No gold
heavy in the pan, but bright, fleeting,
precious as life.
NOT QUITE MIDNIGHT
I wrestled with the epistemology of
sight, how a thoroughbred unwinds itself
across a field in curves of bone and
sinew. No. It was too dark to keep pace
with a creature so weighty and so
light. And then broke
commotion right through the protection
of walls—a house party up the road.
Moon that was hanging clear and bright
slipped away leaving nothing
but starlight and the same old question,
how we know the beauty
of a thousand pounds of flight.
A sow and piglets. Sheep and cattle graze
the fields long gone to thistle and disuse.
Two arcs of irrigating water—praise
to husbandry—spark rainbows. The wild goose
takes wing to join her mate where updrafts sluice
the morning. Ripples on the lake. And there—
a wagon henhouse, chickens on the loose
to peck what fowl can find on land once bare.
Horsetail clouds. A kingfisher, dragonflies on air.
PALIMPSEST OF A GHOSTED ROOM
What are the memories
here? kimonos on hangers
in an upper room.
The kitchen’s rusted fluter.
You pour the wine—what vintage?
And you tell stories:
adagios of families
up and down the stairs
as they moved on to other
places in this long history.
A layering of
breaths, of sun through a window
golden leaving its
glow; patina on door knobs
and closed panes of waver-glass.
hand lightly on your shoulder
as you stopped beside
the bedroom’s limp white curtain
suddenly lifted by breeze.
These are the cocoons of dreamers in sleep
to wake as silk strands boiled to be set free.
Fields dream of rain to green the grass as sheep
fathom lambs from some meditative sea
deep as the idea of Unknown. Tree
releases sky from sleeping leaves that shake
with dreams of coming winter. Shall we see
a flower breaking surface of the lake
as dreamers in their silken strands awake?
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
—Medusa, with thanks to today’s contributors from upside the hill!