Thursday, February 07, 2019

Breathing Together

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


The same landscape we used to hike, summers ago. Nothing’s changed, no geological upheaval. Jit of junco from krummholz to pine. Aspen quivering its fluent leaves, wordless in memory. Now the mind goes climbing, breathing heavier than breeze. My old field notes: calochortus mandala-flower. Wyethia waving dull underside of leaf, its yellow mule-eyes. Light shimmers the land’s familiar face ever-changing. Remember white-crown sparrow rising from her nest. Summers older, you can’t hike anymore; my trick knee. A dozen years have passed, the landscape’s as it was.

remember bluebirds,
a nestling fledged from your hand—
neon flash of blue

(first pub. in Sacramento Voices)    


The moon, no longer spherical, abandoned us with the last mysterious hoot of owl. One by one we gathered around last night’s fire, a cold circle. On a blackened stump, ancient enamel cup chipped and rusty, color of once-upon eggnog dregs. Obsession is hanging on to things no longer useful. Before the sun, morning.

a first bird—three chirps
in quick rising sentence


Buffleheads streak white/black wakes across the lake’s cold surface, disappear in shadow of the opposite hill. Abrupt swish of flight too fast for field marks, what kind of duck takes off over water? Indecipherable script of an old bare willow reflected upside down in ripples, limned in morning slant of sun. Where is the egret, sentinel of the wetland cove?

no shadow but blue
a sudden white-brush of wings—
silver hush riffles the lake


Above the meadow, below the dark of pines, under a blue Sierra sky—brash yellow autograph written across a quiet panorama. Scotch broom, beautiful in flower. Who requested this invader? It thrives on persecution, it takes over the world. In the old place, it crept through fences—seed caught in a neighbor’s Kubota track? We hacked and dug at it, and browsed our goats among it; I thought goats consumed everything.

from this hike we’ll keep
memory of brilliant yellow
blooming in our dreams


After Arrival of Wakamatsu Colonists at Gold Hill, 1869, a watercolor by George Mathis

What strange arrival of bamboo-bark hats, kimonos. Wagon horses wait to be lightened by a bit of shade—no trees around the house, but woods full of birdsong in no human language. Who translates Japanese to English? She’ll plant a sapling of shelter, of home—wide-branching keyaki under California summer sun. The tree outlives her, and the pond they dig by hand,

creek-fed spot of blue
reeds sprouting along the shore,
fish in its deeps


Loki comes home in an e-collar to prevent her licking the wound. Neck and head prisoned in stiff plastic cone, she lies disconsolate on living-room carpet. Big black kitten Latches sees; halts; eyes full-moon bright pricked with black. Has the dog been to outer space and come back alien? He approaches stealth-slow—to the verge—extends his neck full-length, cautious. Moves an inch closer, fore-paws on the fearful threshold. Touches nose to nose.

two furred creatures
species from different planets
breathing together

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

from dark of cupboard
among tea canisters, two
neon eyes in black


Gung hay fat choy on this second day of the Year of the Pig! More hiabun from Taylor Graham this week, and gratefully so! We’ve had a great variety of poems in that form the last couple of weeks; Medusa Snakepals are proficient in forms, indeed!

Poetry events in our area today include the licensing workshop at Crocker, 6pm; Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, 8pm; and Poetry in Davis, also at 8pm, featuring Tim Hunt and Leonore Wilson, plus open mic. 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.

For 21 things you didn’t know about Chinese New Year, go to

—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)

 Snow in Placerville (see the snowflakes coming down?)
(Yes, we had snow up here Monday, and 
it hasn't completely melted off yet!)
—Photo by Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs, CA

 —Photo by Carol Louise Moon, Placerville, 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.