Thursday, June 27, 2019

Moon Riding

Doe in the Oaks
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


We keep to ourselves here, no need
of male or female company. That was before
the doe got inside our defenses. Not by headlong
charge, but hugging the side of rocky hill,
a bit off-balance in her gait as if
she didn’t understand how this whole business
happened. Soon a tiny spotted fawn
was lurching to untangle its legs on our weedy
lawn, newborn all curious/a-tremble.
The doe his mother stays spooky, her babe
hidden like speckled fawnskin fading
into beaded dew. I glimpse her from great
distance, sometimes down by the almost-dry
creek where she might moisten her muzzle
in what remains of a pool. So have we become
keepers of a beast who’s not for keeping. 


My wits more tangled
than a newborn fawn’s four legs—
I missed the photo.
Mother and fawn disappeared
in the blink of my surprise.

This iPad photo—
Impressionist doe beyond
focus of digital space.
Watercolor from the brush
of distance, dreaming. 

for Margaret

High country summer: your gelding
twitches his ears on-trail, guided
by the way you lean in the saddle and
his own instincts and senses—
mysterious as butterfly wing, hovering
between steadfast and flight, heat-
shimmer on blinding white.
Love of horse on the land—
decomposed granite under-hoof as you
thread a way between boulders
and huckleberry oak, orographic lift
to an overlook
where land lies a jumble
of devil’s-garden impenetrable
by horse. You rein him around, back
the way you came.
There’s always the line
between knowing by feel—contact
of hide, sweat, boot-sole, breath—
and seeing the whole from a distance.
Love flits between. 


Driving down Hwy 50 I saw a herd of horses—bays and buckskins, sorrels, paints and piebalds in a hilly field. Not a herd; a rough circle, a compass rose pointing inward. At its center, a white horse on the ground. Neck outstretched on grass. The time I saw my black mare flat like that, she needed a vet. Was that pale horse in trouble? The other horses gathered round, heads low, motionless. A comfort group, a wake? Already I was past in the slow lane. By the time I drove back up the hill, the horses were gone.

a brief vision wakes
behind my eyes, a question
of speechless horses 

Pony Express Re-Ride, 2019

I was driving Hwy 50 east out of the Valley,
head-on toward a full moon, while, on the far
side of mountains, a horse and rider were
following that moon west. The Pony—already
one week on-trail, relay day and night,
bound for Sacramento. Back home, I checked
on the Pony’s progress, not by letter
in a horse’s saddlebags, but cyber Trail
Report that keeps on running in imagination:

Black horse flat-out galloping, its life-size
shadow keeping pace—blue-white sand
under white-blue full-moon night. Up ahead,
a fresh horse waiting saddled, pawing, snorting,
impatient for the oncoming rush—black-
horse shadow advancing west under moon—
eastern rim of sky turning gold behind
them, turning ground to gold under hooves,
rising sun trying to catch the Pony.

inspired by Cindy Furse’s Trail Report 

Pony Express Re-Ride 2019

Map on my screen showed a squiggly line
moving west with loneliest Hwy 50, where wild
mustangs cross like a train in dead of night.
Along that squiggly line, a horse and rider tried
to make up time; 2 hours behind schedule.

On my side of Sierra, a rider hoping that deficit
would disappear before she swung into the saddle,
and have to make up time by running her horse
on pavement. Duct-tape wrap to keep him
from slipping, she explained—still, she hoped
she wouldn’t have to chance it.

I’d gone to bed with the Pony running late,
and woke up with Pony rushing down
our Western Slope an hour ahead of schedule.

I was out the door, down Green Valley
to Rescue PO. There were my poet-friends,
bags full of poems to read while we waited.

There was ChessMaster with duct-tape hooves,
waiting for saddlebags full of mail.
Securely four-square
grounded—just look at his eyes
already flying. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The cake looked luscious
but I couldn’t stay. Outside
night was falling—dark
the mountains ghostly haloed
with this moon rising full, full!


Our thanks to Taylor Graham, who writes today about the doe on her property and the 2019 Pony Express Re-Ride ( She writes, “I was practically glued to the site—OK, duct-taped—for a day before the Pony arrived on Thursday!”

—Medusa, celebrating poetry!

 "...this moon rising full, full!"
—Anonymous Artwork

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.