Taylor Graham

In Issue 4 on October 31, 2009 at 7:56 am

Your Secret,

how you survived that overnighter,
wandering as if mindless
off trails into untracked dust.

Maybe you were following a pillar
of cloud to the horizon;
thinking this is where Jesus spent

forty days and nights of temptation,
the devil flexing his craft.
What voices does the wind take?

A searcher knows fatigue,
dehydration, hyperthermia, big words
for letting go. For visions.

What grace in a mirage’s cup of water?
Was it a sign from heaven,
the raven flying overhead, dipping

its wings then banking, turning so the sun
struck just so – a raven blinding
angel-white? Is that what made you

change your course? Or at night
as you tried to pray yourself to sleep,
maybe the stars sent coded messages.

We found you. For years I’ve
replayed the story in my mind. But
I could never say what saved you.

Alyssa, A Paradigm

Who steals a childhood?
June’s a fly-away blue wind.

What do elm-trees know?
A girl – no, three girls,
mother and daughters at play.

Behind his fences,
hedges over-green the walls,
shadows trick and tease.
If at dark you listen soft
as nighthawk, can you
hear the untaught laughter fly?

Above the tent-top
so many constellations.
A backyard slumber
party – how many years can
a ghost story last?

Will he let the sweet
alyssum’s tiny white blooms
show bright in the sun?

Flowers answer to their names
when a spring breeze comes to call.

Three golden finches
caged, singing inhuman words –
who will set them free?

Wind Today

End of August, almost fall,
the eucalyptus is wild
with it, blue oaks scattering
leaf-confetti. And now
overhead, a shadow of the wind –
two, three buzzards
casting their dark circles.
Underneath, wind
or wing strikes the dead
branch of an oak –
talons, eye of hawk.
Look higher.
Her mate far over-sailing
buzzards. This is how
the heart hunts
for a living
in this lift of wind.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in California. Her poems have appeared in American Literary Review, International Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Poetry International, Southern Humanities Review. Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press) was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.

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