Balance

A contemplative gait, sun in its setting business
painting the mountains ― which have been bright
and stand-out-ish ― to amber and shadow. Soft.
Easy to love. The way shade spreads,
gradual, inevitable and gold fades. Traffic
quiets into a fallacy we humans believed in
for an unfortunate while. Possible now
to walk beyond the barricade into the dry
river corridor, nests of blue-gray boulders,
stands of willow and cottonwood and the beginning
of nature stories we will tell the children to help them
belong in the world, help them know how to
watch the snake and the bear without needing
to take them in their hands or try to teach them
to speak English.

By Grace Marie Grafton

golden cottonwoods along Snake River


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of the Snake River by Daniel Larson.

Mend

Take this stitch, this little green stitch,
take the second stitch, turn it sideways,
remember how wind blows prairie grasses
this way and that. Eases the mind,
reminds the observer about the sky
Earth lives in. Everything on the planet
more circle than line, moves zig zag.
Picture the hawk riding thermals,
think of the wave seeming forward
but pulling back. Somehow the beat of
the heart feels round as though it could be
comfortable held in the palm. Blood veins
and arteries so seldom really straight.
Think of head and eyes, junction of joint
with joint, knobs of bone and how tendons
wrap. A rope may be stretched straight but
it’s braided, strand curled over strand,
a snake can move only by twisting,
thought grows by exploding in all directions.

By Grace Marie Grafton

salsify plants in prairie


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of salsify among prairie grasses by Weldon Schloneger.

A Language of Lineage

A language of lineage rather than explanation
―Melissa Kwasny

The chut-chut-chirp of a bird outside my window
does not explain the mechanism of bird-sound,
its wings are not a treatise on aeronautics.
Listen
and you will enter day, tree, breath.
You will breathe.
Watch
and be lofted, feathered into sky.
You’ll say to your questioning three-year-old,
‘It’s not so important to know the how
as it is to be the how.’
Then play the pretend-game again.

Do you understand root and worm
or do you, through them, experience not needing
eyes?
A blanket is a path to an ancestor
who held in her hands the gift of wool,
a blanket introduces a lover’s skin,
a piece of soap speaks the language of dawn,
look at your washed hand, it’s the same as
seven AM.

By Grace Marie Grafton

child looking out window at trees


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of child at window by maximkabb.

Who Was I

When I wore the red shirt with stitches holding down
the facings, when the shirt I wore was the red of rust
and reminded me of mountains, summer sun, the smell
of pine trees toasting or of heated human skin?

My skin, my hair full of pine needle smell
and the intimate anticipation of snow-melt water
waiting for me to enter. To enter, to dive to the rocky
bottom, waiting to tell the silent story of rocks and
creeks and place. Where I started. Where my hair
turned yellow in the sunshine, where I dove repeatedly
for the rock, to hold the rock in my hand and let it go.

How we make the repetitious rituals that bring us to
the beginning, how we float in that beginning and
recognize the place we came from and where we go,
getting there mapped in our movements,
ancient tongue we don’t speak but make,
those years before we want to say ‘I’ or ‘mine’,
when we still belong to sky.

By Grace Marie Grafton

standing on a mountain top


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo by Tatiana Kostareva.

What a beautiful…

Fog, gentle and cool, claims
the air with authoritative chill,
alters day’s thermometer, dims clamor,
veils the view until I might
fear I’m blind.

‘Turn inward,’ it seems to say,
‘count your blessings.’

I cut a stem of sweet pea blooming
in my bleak garden, carry it into my
kitchen, study the delicacy of petal,
reminiscent of fog’s transparency.

What do I have inside me
to match fog’s indecisive, chilly loveliness
and the invisible beauty
of the sweet pea’s scent?

By Grace Marie Grafton

pink sweet peas against cloudy sky


Grace Marie Grafton is the author of six collections of poetry, which can be reviewed on Amazon’s site. Grafton_Whimsey_CoverShe lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, with a redwood tree outside her kitchen door and a native live oak next to her deck. Nearby are red squirrels, raccoons, salamanders, and (never seen) mountain lions. Other of her nature poems can be found in Canary (online), Peacock Journal (online), Third Wednesday, Poecology and The Common Ground Review. Her book, Whimsy, Reticence and Laud: unruly sonnets, is rooted in her love of nature. She has taught for decades with CA Poets in the Schools, frequently taking her grade school students outdoors for their poetry lessons.

Photo of garden sweet peas by Juliet Photography.