AN EMPTY HOUSE
We drove all day
through bald rolling hills
to get here. Step inside
the door as evening falls.
A languid yellow light
drifts across the hardwood floor
then stops, and moves
cross-purpose, as if
at an axis of decision,
the center of the compass rose,
a dancer caught
in the wrong steps. It hovers
behind a certain chair.
How a house holds memories
and more. Sit down.
Pick up this book and open it
at random. How we turn
the pages that they read.
Each building suddenly a labyrinth
as all the swifts pour down chimneys
in a cloud; a cavern that exhales
as bats rush out in thousands.
And on the western outskirts, smoke-
stacks suck back their daily filth
of furnaces, a damping glow like fire
that finally consumes itself.
I’ve walked the corridors that line
these streets in daylight, hardly
thinking. Faith in calculations and
blueprints, the ever-higher rise,
the scrape of tower against sky.
Now twilight lowers, the wind swirls
black funnels. While here I stand,
not only with a sense of threshold,
but listening to how cold it is
within: the silence of a builder’s
secret broken. Could it be shelter
from the blinding whirl-dance
of the storm? I raise my flash-
light beam to step inside.
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 International Poetry
Review, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry
International, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere, and
she's included in the anthology, California Poetry: From the
Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her
book The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press, 2006) was
awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her latest is
Among Neighbors (Rattlesnake Press, 2007).