Thursday, June 21, 2018

Caught in the Horse's Eye

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Golder than the sun
these poppies each one reaching
higher into sky

summer’s quest for gold—
poppies lifting heads unstunned
by our foothill heat

sky blinding to the eye
as noon sun reaches down
to torch the poppies’ gold

burning like summer
a hill where poppies are the
only flaming shade

we’re trudging higher
ablaze with poppies.


Beyond the campground, a stringer of pines;
footbridge across a creek that guards its
blue secret from tangle-grasses on the banks,
a patch of false hellebore mocking skunk
cabbage but for its white blooms—
we come to the clearing for this occasion.
Clouds are edgy, white and flocking
as if waiting on a word of weather to run.
Pines stand mountain-stoic. Kindling’s placed
tepee-fashion in the fire-circle, not yet lit—
the kind to keep us singing questions into dark.
Out of sight, in the woods a cabin’s
yet to shut its door as if waiting for a man
to come back home; pull off his boots
at end of day. Years ago we came here to say
our goodbyes. Today we come again.
Another friend has left a cabin open
in the meadow. Firewood outside the circle,
left for burning. Forest’s history of green.


Aspen meditated around the edges. Bare-armed or bundled—it was June— we found hard seats on picnic benches. The forest her country, cathedral of pines. To speak of the departed set the west wind blowing. She knew everything. Where the shelter-cabin huddled in the midst of snow. If a hiker was missing on the 2-lake trail, go check the drift of ground where pussy-paws spread over DG granite, it pulls you downhill so gradual, you don’t notice you’re dropping into canyon. She’d solve a disappearance in her head out of memory and long seeking. She never wrote those histories down, had no grasp of sentences on paper. And none of us thought to be her scribe. She was always there, until she wasn’t. Cancer no mystery she could solve. Then the wind picked up, a roar to remind it would storm any time of year.

aspen in flurry
the great pines leaned together
wind blew it away


Through office window-screen I thought
the blossoms on the privet were
getting dingy, fading white and falling.

What’s that bird? Phoebe silhouette
but dullish gray—a trick of light
screened by canopy of branches?

And bees! Dozens of bees.
Walk outside.
So many fresh white blossoms

and yes it’s Phoebe, bright in black habit.
And bees going crazy in the privet.


The old scythe’s gone too rusty for this dance
with another season’s blossom-dying green—
stickers grown brittle, higher than one’s knee
and thistle rampant all about the land,

its red-flag warnings: combustible land.
A motor-scythe’s our partner for this dance,
whacking wild oat and brome no longer green.
I swing and sway, no longer lithe of knee

and shoulder. There’s a rustiness of knee
on tricky footing, navigating land
of rocks and pocks and branches under green
that cause a sudden mis-step in the dance.

And yet there’s joy that makes of chore a dance,
a steady rhythm that absorbs the knee,
connects it somehow, fiber to the land—
grasses shaking down seeds to promise green

garlands for another dance. Bend the knee,
bow to this land that always comes back green.


Pure reflection. Pale horse
at liberty to graze for a few more moments,
this lovely cool morning before hitch-up, before
the Wagon Train moves on. Already a saddle-
horse is reined into the waiting line. Already
the teamster may be consulting his watch,
looking for a sign, a summons.
But for the moment he lets the lead-rope drag,
he’s almost lost in reflection, allowing
his horse to graze June grass so close to my car.
My little Honda so low to the ground
I’m caught in the horse’s eye. Separated
by nothing but glass and light, pure

Today’s LittleNip:

—Carl Sandburg

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for her poems about her trick knee and that cabin in the woods (our recent Seed of the Week), plus her fine photos, all to celebrate this Summer Solstice, 2018!

Head on down to the Sac. library on I St. today for Third Thursdays in the Central Library at noon; bring poems, preferably by someone other than yourself, about weddings, marriages, partnerships, mutual discovery.

Tonight at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento presents featured readers Loch Henson, Marvin Zia and open mic. Also at 8pm, Anna Fenerty and Nick LeForce will read in Davis at the John Natsoulas Gallery. 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.


Celebrate Poetry—and the Summer Solstice!

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