Thursday, March 22, 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


You slept too long. You ask what time it is, what day and what’s the plan? All the same old questions on a new gray morning, rain at last in a long dry winter. What’s on the news, you want to know? It’s all so far away. Open the door and step outside,

this morning’s blessing—
wild plum blossoms on the bough
bowing down to rain

       a quilt by Linda George

I know this place, or saw it years ago
or was it just last month? Its details fade
with distance as some trees dissolve in shade
of closer trees, and time that moves so slow
then speeds away. Such guardian trees, I know
they must be evergreen, yet with a glade
of fireweed as purple as if made
for dreaming leaf by leaf as oak-woods grow.
What chance, this place already gone today—
drought or fire, chainsaw? A lost bird’s call
is flown, except to memory where it’s true
as anything that was, and couldn’t stay.
A quilted remnant, layers of leaf-fall
with still some slanted sunrays stitching through.


Will they tear the one-room schoolhouse down
or leave it standing to recall the days
of learning letters without cap-and-gown?
Will they tear the one-room schoolhouse down
where pupils could decline a Latin noun
with slate or pen and inkwell, simpler ways?
Will they tear the one-room schoolhouse down,
or leave it standing to recall those days?


What source the urge that lifts
sandhill crane from stubblefield to cloud?
& what nudges the hawk on fence-
post to ruffle his feathers like an old man’s
hand-me-down coat, the hummingbirds
to hide their iridescence from a cold gray day?
Does moon snail’s mood mimic the tides?
& what’s the mangrove’s secret code?
Don’t you know, curiosity killed
the pelican. Quit your questions, please.

But what fun would that be?


What does gold-flake feel like
in a pan of river silt and gravel, gold
finding its gravity in shiver-swirl snowmelt
water rushing gouging its way down canyon.

And that absolute dark that beckons
at the adit entrance to a mine, to go deeper;
the pull of void hacked into bedrock following
a precious vein to the heart of mountain.

What’s down there? How did those
old-time miners feel, cramped in tunnels
so far from daylight? Can you
survive your curiosity?


You stopped to sniff ponderosa bark;
lulled by sweet scent of vanilla on this fine
spring morning, sunlight filtering
through canopy of pine and cedar. Birds
have paused their song. You’ve come
just minutes from your new home,
what they call the wildland-urban inter-
face. Almost inaudible—more a change
of pressure in atmosphere, or forest floor.
You turn, and there she is, silent
padding on needle-fall. A cat big enough
to eat you. Cougar making her rounds,
maybe fifty-square-mile circuit
of her ancestral range. You’re new here.
Is she hungry? You freeze against the tree.
Can she smell fear eating you inside?
How to measure time by counterclockwise
circling of a cat: does it last an hour?
Curiosity satisfied, or just bored,
at last she leaves. A blessing. Welcome
to your new home; to hers.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Through the schoolyard walked a living bear.
Who saw, through classroom windows, rare
and wondrous vision? What child would dare
meet a mythic creature open-handed, open-air?
Each imagining what was or wasn’t there.


Taylor Graham’s poems are full of questions today, celebrating our recent Seed of the Week, Did Curiosity Kill the Cat? We’re grateful to her for those and for her photos catching the greens and the fast-moving water of our early-spring foothills.


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate poetry!

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