An Hour in the

Cougar's Grace

From the back cover:

Taylor Graham has been published in America, The Chatahoochee Review, The Iowa Review, New York Quarterly, Poetry International, Yankee, and elsewhere. Her collection, Casualties: search-and-rescue poems (Coal City, 1995) was profiled in the 1998 Poet's Market. Her most recent collection, Next Exit, was released by Cedar Hill Publications in 1999. Taylor and her husband are volunteer search-and-rescue dog handlers in the Sierra Nevada.

Front cover art by Bryan Dechter, our nephew. More at www.dancingeyes.com

Click on selected poems:

Sleeping with the Mockingbird

Camouflage Cat

Calling April

Wildflowers

The Angels of Earth Sleeping

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SLEEPING WITH THE MOCKINGBIRD

 

He sings in the voices of people

I've lost. Mother, father, one

old lover. Friends, some gone

without my noticing. He changes

dialect. He improvises,

he brings them back.

But his song

is of people disappearing, a mock-

masked carnival, a chorus of dead

voices masquerading in a mocker

song.

This same familiar room fades

into twilight. Outside

a bird reminds me of forgotten

voices

until he takes my own

voice too, and scats it so I

wouldn't recognize, and goes on

improvising song on song on song.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping with the Mockingbird

Camouflage Cat

Calling April

Wildflowers

The Angels of Earth Sleeping

CAMOUFLAGE CAT

 

All night she hunts,

black by the light of her two

green moons. Come dawn

it's stubblefield silver,

bleach and gossamer

of grasses drying.

She stalks the edges

shedding sunlight. See

the weed-heads parting,

a scatter of birds.

By noon she's purring

adventure against my leg,

her tail a triumph

of thistledown, come-alongs

and burrs.

Toward evening

she grooms and preens

in my lap, as if

she were domestic,

as if she were mine.

But it's all glossed off

by midnight to that deep

eclipsing shine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping with the Mockingbird

Camouflage Cat

Calling April

Wildflowers

The Angels of Earth Sleeping

CALLING APRIL

 

We're a month into knee-high

vetch, gigantic poppies

on the roadsides in this maze of small

dirt roads. 74 years old and lost,

this April, who walks all day every

day, her mind not keeping pace

with her tennis shoes along

the gravel of an edgy

neighborhood between pavement

and dropoff canyon, every day less

certain where she's going:

a house she used to live in

10 miles down the highway,

a pond she favored on a hot

spring day with a dog

for company and spring thoughts

of her own.

Two grown daughters tell us

everything they know about a mother

who's no longer anyone they know:

how tall, how light

she stands now in faded jeans

and tennies. How far

she can walk.

And so we're walking calling April,

who could be anywhere in poison-

oak and lupine, this April

on an April afternoon,

as if she'd come to our call.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping with the Mockingbird

Camouflage Cat

Calling April

Wildflowers

The Angels of Earth Sleeping

WILDFLOWERS

 

A pair of city lovers

off the road: he

stands guard against our foothill

bandits, while in floral-pattern

skirt and shoes rubbed smooth

by pavement, she gathers

armloads of poppies, of lupine.

She's tripping back

to stuff them in the car.

May they take their blue thievery

back to town. May she

for the day wear lupine

wilting in her hair.

But they can't take the hills,

every day going wilder

with flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleeping with the Mockingbird

Camouflage Cat

Calling April

Wildflowers

The Angels of Earth Sleeping

THE ANGELS OF EARTH-SLEEPING

Shriner Lake, Mokelumne Wilderness

 

Lying uncomfortable

in my bones, I heard you

drop to sleep, mounded dense as earth

in your bag.

Three miles from trail-

head, two in the morning.

No wind

but something's whispering

soft as a child

breathing. Moonlight

flits an edge of lace,

undergarment for an angel.

Over the aisle of trees

it watches me through lodgepole,

measuring an arc against my hours.

There are others, motionless

in fir. One keeps the prints

of deer, and one has flushed out

nighthawks. No wind. But

an angel's settling dust

in the tracks we made

to get here.

Each one invisible

except for moonlight.

Have they crossed your dreams?

I shiver under the hand

of the one without a name.

And then the angel of sudden joy

shakes me as I'm waking

in its way.

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