GARDEN OF DEAD LEAVES
She carries no tools to the hill, walking carefully
finding foothold as she goes. Stone-stump-leaf-
fall slick underfoot. It’s October, the woods’
thick mat of years no cushion but hazard. Wild-
fire cancels everything when it comes—or
before, its rumor-fear. Home insurance no longer
assured. No beating the system, but to try
with bare hands and hope. The system a maze
more tangled than her slash-pile, detritus
of a great oak fallen in storm. Each limb she pulls
from the pile, a handle. Sun plays through
canopy of oaks still standing, bursting brilliance
in her eye. Each morning she rises like dinosaur
in a changing world, its changing weather.
SHADOWS ON ASPHALT
Is that her ghost, standing
in the clinic parking lot surveying the sky?
Same cock-elbow stance, same lock-lip smile;
then she swings up into an old red pickup
as into the saddle, bound for the trail.
Same broad-seeing glance but somehow
secret, like she was stroking her sorrel’s ear,
a wordless language. Equations of touch,
That friend is gone. Here’s a phantom
of imagination—conjuring a spirit
that even cancer can’t annihilate.
SEASONS OF SONG
Rasp of rake and click of clippers
saw-blade music cutting oak
louder than birdsong
thru autumn trees
Cooper’s hawk flies
Machinery across the canyon, invisible
in trees—north-facing slope, ponderosa pine
and black oak. Someone’s thinning trees,
or cleaning up slash, working on defensible
space. Aren’t we all? with saws, trimmers,
loppers, bare hands. I envy the machinery,
sometimes. When the noise quits, a breeze
takes up the silence, makes it beautiful.
GHOST IN MY INBOX
How cute would your dog Scout look
in these costumes? the email ad asks me.
How do they know his name?
Cyber-spies they are, not knowing
Scout died four years ago, still a puppy.
He’ll be haunting Halloween
as he always does this time of year,
a swirl of falling leaves on wind,
dancing like the pup he was,
floating off in wander-song of breeze.
Save the Graves at Placerville Union Cemetery
A crowd in the old graveyard, going on Halloween.
Men in black suits, white beards like Longfellow’s
among gravestones, finding their places. A ball-
capped guy with smartphone. Homestead lady,
ageless glint in her eye. Watch your step—
tripping hazards on old cemetery paths,
some headstones needing repair. “Dead Men Do
Tell Tales:” folding chairs for audience near certain
gravesites. Pioneer banker recounts his life
in this Gold Rush town. Long-dead blacksmith,
lumberman, suffragette. A young mother—
beaded braids and baby-stroller—converses
with an immigrant woman buttoned up
chin to boots: urgent talk across generations,
centuries. Behind them, gravestones slope away
down the hill. October sun lowers
behind tall-pine ridges of our town. Living history
in the making. The dead are about to speak.
WHERE’S THE SCARECROW?
School garden’s decked out
for Halloween. Dragon toes
root trees from flying
off in October gusts. The
scarecrow? sunflower disguise.
Clever scarecrow, hiding on this Halloween Thursday! (Maybe he’s afraid of the wee goblins in the school.) Our thanks to Taylor Graham for bringing us this cheeky scarecrow, and all her other harbingers of autumn today, including her great shots of the Cooper's hawk. About her “Living History” poem, she writes that she went to the reception/tour for our local Save the Graves last week, and that they have several websites, one of which is www.facebook.com/pages/category/Community/Save-the-Graves-El-Dorado-County-334758090421934/.
And thank you to Katy Brown for her scary pumpkin photo, taken quite a few years ago in Michigan when her daughter, Miranda, lived there. Thanks, Katy Brown!
—Medusa, and may all your ghosts turn into poems for you ~
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
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.