Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Snow

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


One snowflake, a heart’s
delight. More snowflakes, lovely
on grass and oak bough.
Too many to count, these flakes
whiting out our road, the world.


Last summer, walking the hill behind the Senior Center, I found yarrow in bloom, each flower a perfect snowflake, individual as the homeless people who—driven from farther west—set up camp on the slope overhanging parking lot. They lived out of sight in dark of scrubby oak. When rains came in November, a sleeping bag like a flag hung to dry in front of the Center. Next day it was gone. So were the homeless. This February morning, the Center’s closed for snow and ice, not a soul in sight.

the high hill silent
scrubby oaks lacy under
a veil of snowflakes


Great oak came down. Trunk
and limbs splayed across driveway,
imprisoning us
at home. We’ve cancelled all those
appointments. Peace and quiet.


After the big storm she walks—
she’s out there seeking
the woods’ dark news, a great oak
lying at repose

while her rainwater chair floats
twiglets and oak leaves
dead and green, bits of lichen
among moss fresh green.


Nine seasons ago you wrote—
wild geese on the pond

your resting bench is empty—
sun shivers water

you wrote details of your day—
geese landing, feeding

you’ve lifted off with wild geese—
to resume the sky.


She comes in dream without
my bidding. Dark-eyed with dainty paws,
masked as if she’d stuck her muzzle
into ebony paint.

I held her puppy-form in my hand,
placed stethoscope to her tiny chest, listened
to her heartbeat rocketing beyond
my counting. Nothing
could contain her. She walked earth
as if it were moonbeam.

Joy-wag pirouette, she came running
to my call. I couldn’t hold her
as she led off, away beyond my vision
except in dream.


Can you feel the fox calling in the night
across the western dark and down the hill;
and the great horned owl, soundless in its flight?

It passed like twinges of a nerve pinched tight
and then released, reverberating still—
can you feel the fox calling in the night?

Now coyote howls in full moon-delight,
in stirring of a late September chill,
and the great horned owl, soundless in its flight.

Where is our cat, alive with second-sight
and seeking prey? Another cry, soft, shrill. 
Can you feel the fox calling in the night

here at edge of wildwood? a line so slight
we cross it in our sleep as black bear will,
and the great horned owl, soundless in its flight,

who hovers then drops from an unseen height
like angels out of dreams—a shiver-thrill.
Can you feel the fox calling in the night,
and the great horned-owl soundless in its flight?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

Women know
The way love grows
And ebbs
And flows
By simple small
That go on

A sailor’s dreams
Are not of seas
Or ships
Or sailed away;
A sailor dreams
He left behind
His lover,
His home
His placid bay.


Many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s tales of our recent snow in the foothills, and the dark unknown with its creatures (can you hear the fox calling in the night, and the great horned-owl, soundless in its flight?). And Joseph Nolan took my advice and sent another love poem for this Valentine’s Day, so thank you, Joseph, for serving up today’s LittleNip.

Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets today at the Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Av., Sacramento, 11:30am. And Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar will present Love Isn’t What You Think But It’s Also Exactly What You Think: The David Loret De Mola Valentine’s Day Extravaganza, 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.


 The Grahams' Loki in her Victorian Collar
—Photo by Taylor Graham

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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