Thursday, August 10, 2017

Butterflies in Moonlight

Trek in Swale
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


I’m out early, weed-eating the front pasture
again. Sheep gone, star-thistle is taking
over; golden stars soon to silver
under another summer waning. My moon
garden, producing nothing useful
anymore. It just kept growing. So late
in the season, everything but star-thistle’s
turned dry and brittle—hard
work with my machine. Sun-glare
on every tiding surface of a desiccated sea.
Eight in the morning, sweat’s pouring off me
as if it might water the pasture.
A neighbor’s truck passes, I wave but
he’s not looking. He’s done with mowing.
On his way to another cancer appointment?
Such a blessing, to be weed-eating.

 Mariposa Moonscape

        elevation 8000 ft+

At the junction of rock and flying sky
you found a flower. Day already warm,
a lunar landscape, moon-bloom? butterfly

on stalk almost invisible? Pass by—
no. Stop midstride, and stoop down to perform,
at the junction of rock and flying sky,

a pensive study. Might you verify
with just a pencil, catch elusive form?
a lunar landscape, moon-bloom, butterfly:

reaching stamens, white wings with rust-red eye;
sungold center—and how deep the corm?
At the junction of rock and flying sky,

synchronous energies, a wonder-why.
The clouds converge to summon thunderstorm.
A lunar landscape. Moon-bloom butterfly—

how brief the life of flower to imply
mandala’s truth with grace of cuneiform:
at the junction of rock and flying sky,
a lunar landscape, moon-bloom butterfly.

 August Colors


Where does the time fly?
The fields have turned to
rooted dream and thistledown.

How shall winter go?
In a cool cellar
the stones still yearn for moonlight.

Who is the creek’s song?
A golden river
running under the canyon.

What does crow lament?
Tree-of-heaven grows
anywhere green wants to fly.

Why does the wind blow?
Moon-dust pollinates
crops of wishes that don’t bloom.

When does the sun sleep?
Moon walks the garden
in its silver borrowed light.

—Photo by Taylor Graham 


The moon was full, about to dwindle
as I walked my Shepherd dog, Cowboy,
at bedtime. Its face wasn’t the famous Man
in the Moon, but a prick-eared beast gazing
down on us. A gaze calm but piercing.
It regarded my garden, a ravage of war against
ground squirrels. The moon had seen our
worst, how the world-our-earth turns as it were
away from us, toward morning. Cowboy
gazed back at me with his tiny drop of wolf-
blood and centuries of human civilizing;
his gaze calm, attentive; looking back
to make sure I followed, then turning again
to find our path through the dark. At our door
he accepted a cookie from my hand, his
reward. An old dog sees through me
like moon through thicket.

—Photo by Katy Brown


As we started our hike, the moon was still up—
pale last-quarter sliver of a ghost
in upcountry morning. The meadow in bloom

again, as in that photo—Cody long-gone now,
Shepherd ears alert, muzzle lifted to catch
the news. She was almost lost in July’s meadow-

lush, Indian paintbrush in every shade of red
through pink and purple, yellow, orange.
How many years ago? Meadows fade

like moons. But the air lilted with morning,
orographic lift, full of scents for dogs
to play with. Our living dogs, and dogs once

living, running the meadow, conversing
with a summit wind. Do dogs scent heaven?
Wind drifts ashes from the fire-pit, without our

notice, changes them to blooming flowers.
Fantasy, truth, or both? The moon’s always
traveling, shifting, fading over meadow

blooming to bring us back anew.

 River Rock Cairn


           After ages and miles of
tumbling, being carried and polished in the
torrents; catching gold of sun, silver sheen of
moon in our crystal; after helping the river carve
its canyon, I came to rest here, on river-bar.
          A human caught me,
placed me on a brother’s stone shoulders,
heaped stone sisters on my head.
                    The human
made us to his own image but without
a voice. Beyond river’s reach.
Are we cairn—monument, guidepost—
         his attempt at his own
                   imperfect image?
     By pull of moon against such cheek,
may next winter’s torrents sweep us clear
into the current again, as we were meant to be.

 August Colors 3


Has the moon a mind
for the dealings of man? Have we
scribbled its face with ancestors’ wishes,
outworn knowings and creeds we can
only dream of, can’t apply? An old canticle—
photo of a great bird flying across
the moon’s face; a silhouette, paper relic.
Gone, leaving its hole in the sky.
Last night’s full moon drifted its burden
toward moonset behind oaks. This morning,
buckeye wears autumn colors,
early August. Air so still, no drift of song,
but it feels like rain. A sprinkling
to soothe the dust, a clear spot in woods
inset with stone. Sun holds its own
thought behind cloud. In the cool
my dog dances.

 Loki and Trek

Today’s LittleNip:

There is nothing you can see
that is not a flower; there is
nothing you can think that
is not the moon.

—Matsuo Bashō


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poems and photos this morning, including all her powerful moon imagery. For more about the katauta, see

Two readings in our area tonight: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe presents a book release by NSAA plus open mic, 8pm; or head over to Winters for their Open Mic, 7pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 August Colors 2
 Celebrate the poetry of late summer!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.