Thursday, January 17, 2019

Home by Twilight

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s Senior Fitness Class. “Rock Around the
Clock” is playing on Pandora. Dolly and Flo
can’t quite manage the boot-camp cardio
routine anymore. An upwards leap becomes
a slide-subsidence-lean to the right, lift
the arms high, graceful as ballerinas—two
old gals facing each other on the floor,
doing the latest Jumping-Jack slow-dance.


Loki’s softened her intensity of stare as she
watches the new kitten closely, set to castigate
when he attacks a tangle of electronic cords
and cables under the desk. A shepherd-dog’s
portion in life is to keep order; her breeding’s
her credential. And still, I’ve caught the two
of them—Loki and Latches—companionably
stretched out on the bed meant for humans.


I was cleaning out old webs,
busy with spiders all summer, dusty now.
I’m with Issa—Don’t worry, spiders, 
I keep house casually.
But the repairman
was coming, I was sweeping out
derelict kitchen-corner webs.
Wait! in a far corner, the largest live
Sierra Dome I’ve ever seen,
resting at easy indolence on her web.
Body engorged—household spider
“pleasantly plump.” No caught flies
ready to be sucked dry; no husks of fly
already consumed. What was keeping her
alive? I spared her web.
Next morning, just before dawn, I checked
again. Flicked on the light.
Grandmother spider was a skeleton—
bulbous body gone; splayed legs
part of the furniture now. And a smaller,
younger Sierra Dome was lounging
on a lower cobweb level, digesting. So much
I don’t know about spiders.


Strange twilight vision. You were sitting on
the couch, eyes open. An infinite line of people,
bundled against cold, filed silently in front
of the TV (not turned on), around the living
room. Like an old-time newsreel drained
of color, bonafide refugees, applicants for a job,
or bread. A reminder of traveling in another
country. I think of that woman in rebozo,
selling jalapenos fresh and smoked chipotles,
and men lined up elbow to elbow on a curb
at dawn, hoping for day labor. And still
you watched the human procession circling
the room never stopping. In my mind, one old
woman walks the berm of a road, forever
walking. Alone. Not bundled in drab; wrapped
in all the colors of her life against the twilight.

        on “Smog Collectors” by Kim Abeles

Dusk has settled on the porcelain.
It’s darkened the features on collectors’ plates,
the faces of decades that saw blue sky
as entitled, as not requiring
blessing. It darkens with particulates
what we’ll eat for dinner, on table linen
patterned dark with acid in air. An artist’s
vision, like the ceiling downtown,
mosaic of photos from around the world,
so many views of sky. Blue or brown or stormy.
The sky above us that’s not ours, but moves
above us gathering its share of every
human gathering and riddance. It becomes us.


Sun’s dropping through storm clouds,
eyes brilliant white. More rain’s due with dusk.
I’m at edge between gated community
and chaparral wildland—neither’s mine. All
changed since last time. Someone used
a lot of initiative and muscle to hack a way
through mixtures of chamise, manzanita,
scrubby gray pine. Not just a way—a maze.
Paths broad and beckoning, others sly
as game trails. Who lives here?
Memorize the camel-back of a leaning
ghost-pine—landmark for finding my car.
Lock and leave. A path pulls me
down twists and windings, forks, dead-ends—
a labyrinth. Who made this?
Suddenly, a clearing. Someone’s leveled
the space of a room graded smooth and level
as a floor; a pile of small boulders at a corner.
So far from the nearest road. No sign
of occupancy, no belongings left behind.
A mystery. Did someone evacuate in a hurry?
Time to get back to my car, unlock
and leave, be home by twilight.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

By the front door, the old dog
collects stiff joints for the steps down
to morning. Dogs are trust and patience.
Acceptance, anticipating kibble in his
bowl. The cat appears from dark corners
spiderweb-wreathed with night hunting.
Behind the ridge, sun collects all its
colors for the graves of old dead dogs;
ready to bloom as white-saffron crocus.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos about the magic hour, Twilight, our recent Seed of the Week. Taylor will be reading with Tim Kahl Sunday afternoon at the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series at 2pm, and she will also be reading a poem in Placerville this coming Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Poetry events in our area today include Third Thursdays at the Central Library in Sac at noon today; Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe (featured readers and open mic) at 8pm; and Emily Wallis Hughes and Meredith Herndon (plus open mic) at Poetry in Davis, also 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.


Waiting for Twilight
—Anonymous Photo
(Celebrate Poetry!)

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