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Still Life with Wood Smoke by Taylor Graham

Still Life With Wood Smoke

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) [2002].



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
antenna. Electricity
will be a far-off dream
when you wake up to a comforter
of snow.
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.



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.



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