Thursday, May 10, 2018

Wildwood Secrets

Fairy Lanterns
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Walking my dogs, late afternoon,
this last full day of April, a full moon
waiting to rise behind Stone Mountain,
all peaceful on the shady hillside but

sudden rush and race through
high spring grasses, my dog on hunt
and up surges a wild turkey.
They’re gone—dog, and turkey

remembering how to fly.
I search for turkey nest, careful
not to step on eggs.

Pale rosy-white globes float
a foot off the ground on slenderest
arching swans-neck stems.
Fairy lanterns!

I never found them here. Here,
there, scattered treasure
taken by surprise, or only noticed
by looking for eggs.


Where are we in the cycle of the
Turkey Moon? These nine moon-pale
ovals not yet full, bedded in a nest
not of stars but stones, annual grasses,
bare soil. These earthly moons—
when will they hatch? and, two weeks
later, feathered nestlings cleared
to fly, safe away from the dog
who, without harming, showed me.


Your birthday, just the two of us. But
the music way too loud, the crowd taking its
holiday so vibrantly! We waited in line to order,
as a trumpet blew my ears wide open.
Cinco de Mayo in Placerville! The big bass
guitar readjusted my heart-beat. Mariachi band
in black and silver held the breathable air.
We ordered our tacos, ran outside for cover.
We could still hear the music but muffled.
It was cold, unseasonable for May. We shivered
on metal chairs. Would it rain? Our tacos
appeared. So did the band, the whole sombrero’d
cast. How could they know? They fanned
around our table—accordion, guitars, and that
blast-trumpet. Las Mañanitas, the birthday song.
Instantly I was in love. With what? Words
I could almost sing along. Our 40-some years
together, crazy cross-border forays in a VW
kombi. Tecate to Zacatecas, Carnaval
on a dead-end goat path over the mountains
to Chihuahua—half understanding where
we were, what it was all about. Life-blood
of mariachi, soil we all are born of.


Between the rails—a straitjacket path
curbed by business park replete
with briefcases, modems, hoods of cars
diminishing with distance
and, on the other side, hardpan falling
off to wetland. One blue heron
poised. The abandoned tracks, a seam
perceptible on any aerial photo.
But here he is on foot, depleting day-
light. From this height
a small outlier of open water mirrors
his position inverse and rippled,
ripe for anything.


She sets the suitcase down at the foot of this
steep path. Quartz Hill, cuarzo in her
native tongue. She’s on her way to gold

no one else can mine, she must do it
for herself. Such a heavy load, such a tall
hill, coming into this new country.

She sets her suitcase down and steps
into the shade of oaks beside the way. No
one would steal the suitcase, it’s too heavy.

Empty once. Full of every word in her native
language, and the promise of words here
in the new. She sits in the shade and listens

to birds singing in their own idiom. Maybe
it isn’t song, but warning the invisible borders
of air. What are these birds called here? 

so like her native birds but with slightly
different accent. So much depends on words
she struggles to carry with her up the hill

with its view of this new place, the names
to know it. She takes the suitcase
she’s carried all the long way from home;

warm clothes for winter, and the gift
her mother left her: old portable typewriter.
Empty case of keys to inscribe identity.

Reliable even when the power fails; filled
with every word she’ll ever need.


suitcase by the road shoulder, lid
gaped, nothing inside. My dog stops,
sniffs intently—pauses,
filing each scent in his brain.

Remember that heap of clothes
years ago. The deputy led us pathless
through forest to a clearing
among dogwood.

Two sandals (new, stylish)
a white silk blouse
a long paisley skirt
nylons etc

How long had they been here?
Why? A mystery for our search dogs
to solve. No tracks led away.
We came up empty.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Above the Saturday schoolyard, blue sky
breaks up early-morning clouds. Boy in a blue
T-shirt, ballbag over his shoulder. A blue
river runs motionless through a mural painted
on the gym’s south wall. A ceanothus
cultivar in blue blossom. Nothing’s as blue—
a sudden neon flash bursts out of
lawn and over-flies walkway—nothing’s
as blue as the bluebird.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her fine poems and photos today!

Travel over to Winters tonight for Winters Out Loud open mic at Berryessa Gap Wine Tasting Room on Main St., 7pm. And Luna Lund and Josh Fernandez will read at Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe tonight in Sacramento, 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.


 “Nothing’s as blue” as Ceanothus Concha 
(California Mountain Lilac)
—Anonymous Photo
Celebrate the poetry of the lilac!

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.