April 22, 2014

Two Poems by Taylor Graham

Casting Shadows
            High school girl missing….
Not far from town, that peaceful forest road
edged by black oak, pine, and cedar;
my dogs casting for scents on a fresh breeze;
scanning deer-prints in the dust of early June;
as if there were no other characters
in the cast of that quiet scene, mountains
mined long ago for their gold; left to heal
themselves. And yet, unease
            as if I sensed, on the ridge above,
her shadow behind a log, bones
not yet covered with leaf- and needle-fall.
Earthworms leaving castings in soil.
The spell that ghosts cast.

On everyday mornings, marvels. Magic,
to survive the so-close crash at our very gate –
no one we knew, but still we keep a photo
of the wreck. Each witness carries a long wake
as the jaws of life shear away everything
we counted on. Security of a steel box, safe cage
of ribs to hold heart and breath. Gems
of windshield glass on the shoulder, shaken
like salt into the raw of dreams. Years after
disaster, people still dress for work, and pray
for peace, another day. And mourning doves rise

from the witness field. This magic, to be alive.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in El Dorado County. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, and Southern Humanities Review. Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), about living, training and searching with her canine partners.

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