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Lies of the Visible by Taylor Graham

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



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—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 “nobody 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.



On the Scott St. overpass, on the east-
side parapet, a rainbow touches down

on the woman walking in her thrift-
store dress and streaming hair. There

she stands at the pot-of-gold end
of the rainbow. I wonder if her shoes

are suddenly so heavy with coins,
she’ll have to lay her parcels down

on wet pavement and pour gold
into her grocery bags. I wonder

if she knows she’s wearing a rainbow,
her gray dress washed with it,

her drenched hair flashing rosy
amber. But I expect she’s too close

to feel the colors on her skin.



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