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Poems By Taylor Graham



My father on his camp stool
c. 1947. Physician on vacation,
friend of trees; Pennsylvania
farm boy a continent from home,
harnesser of horses, my father
drove an uncle to the station

and kept going west; picked up
speed; slowed for a wife who died
too young. Here, giant sequoias
spread their noontide dimness,
subtracting a California sun.
He’s read how coastal redwoods

root themselves in the rotting
trunks of an ancestor tree.
Under these giants, my father
smiles like family. His new wife
snaps the shutter. Outside
the frame waits their child.

Shadowed in green, my father’s
thinning hair lifts like wings.
He holds a stone he could not
heal. Perhaps he’s learned
how life roots itself in death,
and then the other way around.


Imagine, with the lights turned out
and just the sparks of bubbles
rising to a riff of waves through coral
and the silken fins of fishes
green and purple-iridescent
as a hummer’s throat, calliope
who weaves sweet summer nectar
in an airy arc – and on this
side of glass, the two of us, a vacant
gallery, and all the possibilities
in galaxies of dark.


South County’s a slow
shuttling way of moving
in and out of rivers

and their ridges, Somerset
past Fairplay, Pioneer
and the Grange; dammed

lake of drowned trees
silver snags
where you still might

see a fisherman floating;
the turn to Omo Ranch;
Mt Aukum clicking

along to the sound
of print-shop that used
to be;

at the last fork,
River Pines. We wave
in your direction;

seldom stop but some-
times. Living water
has to keep moving.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, who also helps her husband (a retired wildlife biologist) with his field projects. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, and elsewhere, and is included in the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004).



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