Thursday, August 31, 2017

Listening for Midnight

Transparent Shadow
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Driving up the long ridge,
we stopped here by chance. Then
I remember—

years ago, down this dirt track,
a hunter lost, canyon dark as ancient
forest with no moon;
found by daylight.

Now, it’s the morning
of eclipse. On the radio, we’ve heard
it observed through so many
lenses: science, nature, spirit, myth.

We’ve come to ground
our selves; to watch less-than-
totality on earth.

Not for a missing hunter
but to see by twi-light—
before all goes dark—opposites

Sun and moon.
Sun-crescents on dirt road.
Day as night as day,
science, nature, spirit.

My transparent shadow
leads the way lost things go.

 Waiting for the Eclipse


Dog’s soft breathing, air dense with insect noise—crickets louder than ringing in my ears. Refrigerator humming down the hall, car tires on chip-seal down the hill. / Suddenly, not a sound. As if everything went dead—listening? collecting deeper quiet, audible stillness so intense, it’s spooky, wonder-full. A presence—shiver passes over, imperceptible. Sound-eclipse. Then / as suddenly, a car goes by below the hill. The dog yawns. Crickets resume their insect song. I breathe. What changed?

stealth angel or owl
silent wings over my head
in a waiting night

 Waiting for the Eclipse 2


I heard you slip to sleep, dense
as earth in the dark of your mummy bag.
            I was wide awake, listening
to my bones—right knee retelling our hike
over rock, crepitus of scree underfoot,
sudden catches for balance. Still,
                        I’m not as old as the stones.
Something whispered soft as a child
breathing. Was it the lake turning in sleep?
           Do stars sing? Maybe it was
music of nighthawk wings. Moonlight,
a constant wake, trailing old lace over aspen.
                       The sound came quiet,
as clear as angels, the ones who wipe out
hikers’ prints as they sleep.

 Hangtown Creek Coldtree


Hangtown Creek awakens to daylight
below the rock bridge,
between bike trail and Main Street,

where the last of the nightly
homeless lug their earthly loads
and creek skirts a city’s toxic litter.

             Your photo begs me suspend my
disbelief. From its perspective,
ripples reflect in a pool emerald-clear,

sheen of sun filtered
through canopy of leaves and shadow—
an ancient bigleaf maple cooling

its feet in the current; old-man tree
of many lifted arms, burl
hunched and curling in the flow

to a giant’s laughing mouth,
afraid of nothing—shaman is he,
healing the water as a creek heals tree.

 Dog Dance


Sable as shape-shifter Coyote—
spirit of Wolf, the tiny part of DNA
denied by our old bible, the breed book—
but now we have the internet
with its ungoverned sources, its hints
and innuendos.
What Russian wolf-dog danced
with my dog’s grandmother? My Loki’s
never low-key. Outside our human
laws of fence and physics.
There’s a wild
world out there. Just take
my lead, she says, and follow me,
I’ll show you.

Dog Dance 2


Forever caught in puppyhood, my
shepherd-dog brandishes an artichoke staff
pulled from the garden, dead feather-fronds a-
flutter. Instantly chivalric—too quick for
my iPad lens in dim first light—he hoists this
lance, finds the balance point and
prances, dry fronds flag-rattling with his
courtly-dainty leaps as over a field of cloud.
This tournament as real as dream,
as once—puppy under discipline of harness—
he performed an improv leash-ribbon
dance of unbridled joy. Again he puts the
rules aside and jousts this morning
in his knightly-errant dance with
artichoke lance.



Apples and grapes, a map with sketchy roads,
just scatters of icons promising fruit,
wine already poured. Magic. Morning bodes
adventuring ridge and canyon. My route—

road-signs blinded by fall
sun-gold and glittering twines of leaves,
a harvest glory as if
this is what I came for venturing

a landscape secretive as winter-gorge
and then abruptly sunlit orchard ripe
for picking, savoring peaches, pears and
apples and grapes, a map with sketchy roads.


Today’s LittleNip:
Night, the beloved. Night, when words fade and things come alive. When the destructive analysis of day is done, and all that is truly important becomes whole and sound again. When man reassembles his fragmentary self and grows with the calm of a tree.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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

(Anonymous Photo) 
Celebrate the poetry of the midnight moon, and don’t forget 
that Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will read tonight at 
Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, along with music from 
Michael Pickering and open mic, 8pm. Scroll down to the blue 
column (under the green column at the right) for info about 
this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note 
that more may be added at the last minute.

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.