Thursday, December 06, 2018

The End of Beyond

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


This morning after rain
every footprint’s washed away but
my dog catches scent—something on the wind
or rising from earth—as early sun
strikes wet pavement at a certain angle, mini-
dazzle. Listen! Wild goose is calling
overhead. And here’s a dirt path into woods.
Oak woods, leaves tarnished pewter.
This one old oak, gray wrinkled bark, a wisdom
of acorn-lore. Toyon's heavy with
One step and then another, as one word
leads to the next, a typewritten line I can’t take
back. Life’s paragraph. It takes me
on a winding path that climbs
then branches as a tree might, as a life.
Cloven hoofprint fresh this morning;
all the quick, unseen creatures who live here.
Who knows where a walk, a poem leads?


Curiosity or too much energy
for anybody’s good? She’s namesake
of mischief’s god, shape-shifter,
snuggled on the couch this moment;
the next, scouting mice
from pantry to antique desk, never
quite at rest. Her ambition,
to sniff every inch of earth; for what’s
above or underneath the surface;
what’s there now or once has been;
pulling her handler head-
long by the leash. Ambition?
It’s her dream to know the world
and all that’s in it. Just
a dog? An untamed heart.
While humans classify by species, 
color, race, her race has no finish-line.


A winding road by sun or moon and star,
by sea-wind, tide, by train or bus or car,
by caravan as homeless travelers go,
she wound up here. A bench. A door ajar.

And still she weaves her ink-strokes tiny, slow
and measured into tales of long ago,
of signs and symbols, wisdom passed along
down generations. Eyes of ancients glow

in hers like rivers weaving land to song,
a landscape parched to desert far too long.
From exile she can see beyond the war
a universe where all things still belong.

    “Resilience” at the Confidence Lab

This living room replicates forest, trunks
of fabric painted to look like trees. Building
has stood 150 years, repairs are needed
in upper floors. Chain across the stairway:
“Don’t even think about it.” Keep out
of dark you can’t see. We stay in the lower,
living room; walk among textile trunks
that waver with our steps, our conversation.
The floor seems steady but fabric trees
take on a living of their own; ghost trees,
breathing as we inhale green.  Do they
mourn the solid trunks that used to grow
here for ages before the place was town’d?
Town still growing, trees on shaky ground.

    “Resilience: A Living Room”

A venerable pine cone like a sacred hat
in burnished wood-tones on ebony pedestal.

This is where they keep precious things
dormant but alive. Seeds. Fir and pine,

hope for generations of breathing life
like sunlight secrets, safe in a black box,

a lamplight beacon in a dark cabin
in the wilderness; our future.


From Fairplay the road climbs
into forest, unearthly this almost-winter
morning. A winding road
flanked by spectral pine and cedar,
their constant cool breath hovering in fog.

No other traffic on Mt Aukum Road.
My dog says Stop. I find a wide spot, inhale
the scent of green; think of becoming
woods—December silence
restless in time while my dog

orients her nose-map, then looks back at me.
Time to move along, road cutting
through gray toward the end of beyond,
weaving us into forest as I drive,
forgetting destinations.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

River shaking earth
under mountain dark
and light diffused by cloud mist,
it squats tiny but sturdy.
Its windows have gathered sun.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos as she circles around that cabin in the woods, last week’s ekphrastic Seed of the Week. Her “Confidence Lab” poems were inspired by the "Resilience" installation at El Dorado Arts Council’s new Confidence Lab on Main St. in Placerville.

Tonight there will be three different poetry events in our area, each beginning at 8pm: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, with featured readers and open mic; or The Love Jones “Chill Night” of love poetry at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac; and Mary Mackey will read at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, 8pm. 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.


Beautiful Loki: An Untamed Heart 
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
Celebrate poetry!

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in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.