photo by Hatch of one of Judy's childhood toys

Lies of the Visible

~from the back cover:

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada and also helps her husband, a retired wildlife biologist, with his field projects. Her poems have appeared in Ascent, The Iowa Review, New York Quarterly and elsewhere. Her latest collection is Still Life with Wood Smoke (Mt Aukum Press, 2002)

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click on the selected poems to view

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

 

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

 

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

 

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

 

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

 

Lies of the Visible

Earthworks

Power

Vanishing Point

The Potato-Wife

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LIES OF THE VISIBLE

 

The boy without eyeglasses

stumbles over his father=s thrift.

He might be a fool dancing

out of wildwood,

who learns to listen

with his skin. Does he hear

the trees= vestigial

breathing, rhythmic as waves

in the cambium, water

against some shore a thousand

miles away? All about him

the singing throats lift, interminable

as sky and brief as nuthatch,

chickadee. Of course

a near‑blind child knows night

is waiting at home, in the crumbs

of supper. But first

he=ll scrape his knees raw

from playing at vision, stub

his toes against the roots that rise

hard against him unexpected

as a rake left lying.

He=ll get his fill of looking

for butternuts as if

they grew here, a whorled

meat he can taste inside

cracked shells, as if

he=d ever seen

one.

 

EARTHWORKS

 

In the cloudless sky of cyberspace,

you=ve found me.

You say we sat through lectures

in Geisteswissenschaft together,

so many years ago, remember?

That semester got lost

in a Rhenish fog. Even Schumann

couldn=t save me.

 

Did you sit beside me?

If we spoke, I might have understood

40 percent of the conversation,

but not the gist.

 

I=ve come back home to the wide‑open

outlaw plains of English.

You settled on a mountain overlooking

the dredger‑pond of a mind=s

upbringing. So high, the edelweiss

blooms year‑round for you.

 

Today, you write, in fair weather,

two planes collided

practically underneath your view,

which extends to Hegel=s

birthplace. But I know,

in imagination=s plain English,

what a plane‑crash is like.

 

 

POWER

 

No matter how good you try to be,

you=re bound to be subpoenaed

sometime, for something.

 

What can you swear to

except blue sky? 

What will you remember about

last Thursday C one

particular

lark‑song in a spring

of so many larks?

 

If they call on the phone

can you be absolutely certain

of your own first name?

Better say Anobody like that

here, wrong number.@  Perhaps

it=s not your name at all,

you were meant for another.

If only your mother had known

 

she=d have named you for the hint

of breeze that fills a sail,

bestowing the imaginary wisp

of power

that turns a ship

under fire.

 

 

VANISHING POINT

 

All afternoon I=ve sat around a table with friends

and poems, and laughed and listened

till each word found its communal rhythm. And now

driving home, I tune the radio to a flute

transcribing what Cimarosa meant for keyboard, sweet

as sunset. I turn down the road that opens

onto a plain view of winter buckeye, and ridges

upon ridges of pine as if forever, folding ravines

damp with Douglas fir and dogwood, and then a bare

crest of February leafless oak, a hawk on its highest

brush‑tip; pastures soft with last night=s storm,

a purple wash of distance. A hair‑

pin curve above a swale; and then a pond

with one pale horse upside down

in reflection.

 

And if the road‑grade unexpectedly

gives way to the true lie of its perspective,

how far might all these lines

to the horizon go?

 

 

THE POTATO-WIFE      

 

Storm outside and a castiron stove,

and cabbage and potatoes in the pot:

she considers what more she might ask.

Remember, the man who carries too much

in his pockets goes hunched and heavy

and is liable to be eaten come March.

 

In the cellar, roots and tubers practice

their endless patience of famine and fullness

and praise. She dreams how, in the darkest

corner, the forgotten potato devises rot.

 

She tells her daughters: a single

honest russet in a still‑life of blushing pears

is fair enough in its way.

She teaches her sons: carve your blessings

in a halved potato and print them

on your palm. You will never starve.

 

She knows a hundred ways

with potatoes; how many

ways with a man? And in all spring=s music

of gardens, who but she

has heard the tubers sing? who else

overhears the secrets

they keep among stones?

 

In her hand, this potato offers

to her knife its open eyes.