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)
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
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.
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
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
that turns a ship
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
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?
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.