Avatar Review

Issue 18

Poetry » Taylor Graham »


Salvage Yard

It looks like a drive-in for dead cars;
a truck cab – bed salvaged for a trailer.
A houseboat over by the cyclone fence
twining honeysuckle. Memories
of twilight deepening toward coming
attractions, a couple slow-dancing
between cars. But it’s my dog
doing her “search” step for human scent
fresher than sprung upholstery.
Cindy’s hiding, none too happy to be
scrunched among crashed metal. This lot
simulates disaster. Or a lost child
who might crawl in anywhere.
From darkness of a trunk, I imagine
a wail; but it’s the wind. My dog zeroes
in on a 60s sedan, glacial shade of ice-blue
faded to scum-water. He alerts, side-
stepping rusted rims and shattered safety
glass; front paws on door handle;
sniffs through the window-hole, his tail
a metronome of joy. Its rhythm rouses
Cindy, lost in waves still surfing
with the Beach Boys, punch-button radio
dead-dreaming on the dash.


I’m caught in trespass
of an aspen grove in full green leaf
whispers, secrets of angels,
spies. I thought it was the people’s
land, free for roaming.
Each aspen held by its roots
together to its people.
There were no signs against
trespass. I thought
it was land owned by all,
a communal treasure unowned
except as trees are owned
by mountain.
The leaves say leave
as leaves must do.

Boy in Yellow

Tells strangers his house has a ceiling fan.
Eyes to ground, but he must speak
his single wisdom. Walks up the field
to its solitary corner. Obsessed with ceiling
fans and pasture sprinkler water-fans
circling air sparkling light.

My puppy Trek, who chases ice cubes
around our kitchen floor in never-ending arcs,
keeps company with humans
with an old dog’s patience, eyes fixed
to each speaking face as if
following the whole conversation.

But now – unasked, wordless –
he’s focused on the boy
as answer
to a puppy’s deepest question:
spirals of wind through light and water.
The bright unexplainable eye of life.

Clinic Parking Lot

Why don’t you get out of your silver car?
I’m sitting in my little white Honda,
listening to Ravel on the radio while my husband
gets his checkup. You pulled in alongside,
turned off your engine, and now you’re simply
sitting, looking straight ahead. Do you
have an appointment? Are you waiting for
the Pavane to end? It’s over now, news break
comes next. And still you sit in your stopped car
under your tweed hat. Are you gathering
courage to see a doctor? Are you afraid
it’s going to be bad news – worse than anything
on the radio? Who drives to the clinic
on a bright spring morning, just to sit in his
Lexus in the parking lot, gripping
the steering wheel, going nowhere? And now
you turn the key in the ignition,
back out of your slot, drive slowly away.

Arco Naturale

I wish I could afford a plane ticket to this
wonder – granite arch giving glimpse
of a blue cove in a distant sea. But it’s just
a photo on my screen. The photographer
attacked it in pieces, three overlapping
shots – he shaved a tad off this edge,
photoshopped them together to reconstruct
the thing entire. Grace of an arch.
Considered geologically, one of those glitches
in the natural wear and smoothing of stone
we call erosion, resulting in this crested arc
of unpolished endurance. How long
did it take, how many eons? And the colors
in that cove – aquamarine, jade, ripstop blue,
minerals that used to be rock melted back
into water. Do I wish I could go there
in person? Perhaps. But here on my screen,
an arch of the bones of earth holding
every color of ocean reflecting the heavens
unending unchanging not even a dream.