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Taylor Graham

Beyond the little siphon-creek
with its pond of tadpoles and swaying
grasses, where we called our dogs back
from sniffing into reeking damps,
we climbed through mesa-
country; took an unmarked washboard
road. Platitudes of all our travels:
go invisible as wind; camp on the edge
of no place with a name; pack up at dawn
and leave no trace, not even fire-pit ashes.
That night it snowed.
Hyakutake parked above us, shining
its comet headlight down from a blacktop
sky spitting flaky white.
After midnight, a ghost-girl
stumbled into my dream and slumped
so cold against the tent, I let her
have my sleeping bag. Our dogs snored
through it.
At first-light I called
them from their own night visitations.
Gear stowed in the truck, we drove
back out over washboard.
Abundant time to determine
which way next. Another of our
platitudes: take the slow route
that doesn’t show on a map; try to see
what nobody thought to mention.


© by Taylor Graham.
Used with the author’s permission.


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. Author of numerous books, her work is also included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman's Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Taylor's current project, What the Wind Says, forthcoming from Lummox Press, is a collection of dog poems about living with her canine search partners over the past 40 years. Learn more about Taylor at


Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
The "blacktop sky" - what a fresh and wonderful image!
Posted 11/10/2013 04:33 PM
Posted 11/10/2013 09:08 AM
Every line, magic. Read it several times, making new discoveries each time. Beautiful!
Posted 11/10/2013 08:19 AM
i love the ghost girl ... & taking the slow route. this poem is magic, yes.
Posted 11/10/2013 08:11 AM
Larry Schug:
This poem's got the magic ingredient-texture. Paying attention is so rewarding, eh?
Posted 11/10/2013 07:23 AM
I keep returning to the part about the comet -- that is so beautiful.
Posted 11/10/2013 04:52 AM
Beautiful work, you took me right there with you. :) Maire in Ireland.
Posted 11/10/2013 04:33 AM

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