Taylor Graham lives at the end of a little dirt road 7 miles from Somerset crossroads with her husband, Hatch (a retired forester), their two trained search-and-rescue dogs, and a black cat and two goats (untrained) .
This ShirtPocket book is available online from
selected poems to view
UPS won't find you here.
But as if by miracle
The Watchtower appears,
as from above, with two young men in suits
who believe you came to live here
so you could talk to angels.
Planes will not touch down, nor
any television network to your thin
will be a far-off dream
when you wake up to a comforter
The only sound, then,
will be your own
appliances: your breathing, your
How the unplowed distance
to town lengthens.
And the howl that catches
your breath in the dark is nothing
the police can solve.
He never thought of his left shoulder,
however broad, as a foundation.
But that's where he carried the loads
of joists and girders. By the time he nailed
on the first plywood sheet of sub-floor,
it was too late to shift the burden
to his right shoulder, or to set it down.
Copper plumbing proved surprisingly
heavy, but the intricate web of wires
lifted his step with the promise of power
under rising sections of wall.
Now wind catches the verticals
like sails; he wavers in his path
but shifts his center of balance
and keeps going. Trusses, and finally
the roof, pitched steeply
on the south for shade. At last
he sits down. The house is finished.
He lives here. He will never leave.
I've come the way rabbits thread
through thicket and berry bramble,
where wizened fruit studs the thorns
like flies on a porch screen.
The way drops into cedar hollow,
then climbs to the tang of axed pine.
Old wheel ruts show the way.
Dogs in the distance bark my presence.
And here's the hiss of cultivated bees.
I know you live around here
someplace. But I don't mean to steal
your pleasure of country bread, nor
all the water from your well.
I wouldn't dream of taking the quiet
of summer leaves, the morning's color
from your pasture, your passing
fragment of breeze.
Coyotes weave the ridge with polyphonic
song. They call our cat.
She loves the bones of small night creatures
skittering their hunger dances in the dark.
Coyotes sing that song. They sing
anybody's hunger under an empty moon.
Our cat sharps the chitter of her jaws.
She has no sense of size. Owl talon,
cougar claw, coyote calling.
She's sweet as salmon from a tin
and safe behind our doors.
We snap the latch and listen.
Coyotes go on improvising song
that touches a raw hunger.
How soft it sings
the moon the dark
and just to her.
The old dog naps by the door,
his whiskers frosted by a February
white full moon. All night, ears
half-cocked, he'll be patrolling
the outskirts of our sleep, such shapes
of harm the moonlight draws
on a dog's care.
With closed eyes he watches:
deer, coyote, fox. Does the she-
bear leave her cleft of canyon
to cast tremendous shadows
on our lawn? Gone by dawn, lost
to us. The old dog sniffs the dark
and bars the door.