Taylor Graham






A skid trail opens out to a gutted Kenmore range,
a corrugated roof gathering cedar deadfall,
and rusting cans, a pit somebody dug to some
purpose, prospective or domestic.  Maybe a glory-hole
that didn't pay its seasons, or a summer squatting
of temporary kin.  Just below the sound of tires
on gravel, I skirt a gully.  A dirt track
hugs the brittle woods to hide a devastated
trailer, a scattered library of college texts (philosophy
and several -ologies) abandoned falls of snows
ago.  Was it no more than calendar
or change of heart that caught
these folks?

A game trail edges down a hogback
with a view of canyons, trees and trees and canyons.
What I can't see, the shafts and adits into under-
ground, the magnet of this place.  I guess
an azimuth down through sugar pine and cedar
to end up on the dirt road where I started.
No Salt-Rock Mine.

But here's an old green stakeside pickup
with a load, no plates, two seedy men
with rolled up sleeves for their own
business of this place, who ask
me if I'm lost.  If I were
I surely
wouldn't tell them.


The nagging of mosquitoes mostly,
a twitchering of juncos
in the pines.  A fly.
Mosquitoes at my ear my mouth my eyes.
Woodpecker, a pecky cedar
deadens his drum.  Some other
bird.  A truck way down
the canyon soft and far.
A fat speckled spider that makes
no sound.  The muffle of sky between
ridges, how the woods absorb
these noises.  Mosquitoes and
another bird.  Leaf-fall.  Silent
beat of blood through my veins,
which sounds like a cougar far-
off, imagined or
closer, his hunger,
his breath.


The sandbar shows a cloven hoof print.
You strip and wade into the shallows
and let the water do its work
on sweat and trail dust.  After-
wards, your white shirt drying
on a rock, you'll consider
the magic of forked antlers.
Tonight you'll sleep under
the horned half moon.