Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. She earned an MA in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Weber Studies, and in the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Other work by Taylor Graham published in Weber can be seen at: Vol. 20.2 and Vol. 22.3. Visit her website at http://somersetsunset.net/Poetry.htm.
In the basement, something
out of place—a can of touch-
up paint tipped over. Chunks
of insulation, cotton-candy pink,
torn from the ceiling, littering
A plastic bottle with the label
gnawed away, leaving a scum
greenish-blue as mouthwash, absinth,
window spray. A pile of magazines,
the corners ripped and chewed,
pages savaged, strewn.
In our labyrinth of storage
(cardboard boxes of who knows what,
old cameras, boots, a trestle-
table from my mother, buckled
with disuse) something
has made a home.
Woodrat? You set out traps smeared
with peanut butter.
The creature likes the bait
and leaves the traps unsprung.
I dream its image moving at night
across the empty moorland
of a dead computer screen.
In our basement, it carves its
local history bite by bite.
In the morning
we try to reconstruct
Astronomy in the Dark
No moon. The house settles down
to its foundations. No TV.
Everyone’s asleep except the self-
taught, who don’t dare close their eyes
while the Earth turns on its axis
of evolving secrets.
What do I know about the Milky Way,
that fuzzy seam between black
speckled hemispheres of heaven?
It splits the midnight sky. Gas and dust
plus 400 billion stars—who
could memorize so many brilliant names?
The night’s so peaceful under stars.
But what’s that light
at the east horizon—could it be
a new neighbor’s lamplit window? Or jack-
light, pyrotechnics, UFO, wild-
fire sparking something explosive?
Our globe turns so flammable
as it spins. What is
that, glinting eye-level through trees?
I doubt I’ll find it in a textbook
of stars. Here’s one more light
whose name I need to learn.