Oct/Nov 2004 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Taylor Graham

Under Iron Mountain

All this country was frontier once,
as the westward pulse pushed
over the passes and down the long
green ridges, past Tragedy Springs
and Maiden's Grave, down
through red fir forest into pine
and cedar, the seasonal meadows,
an impulse to keep moving

that still left pools and back-
waters of folks who'd traveled
far enough; who planted bare-
root apple trees they cherished
in their wagons like the next
generation; and rhubarb rhizomes
to set in a row alongside
the cabin, as if already

a soul could taste the sweet
comfort of cobblers
from back-home.


Red As

Two and a half miles off pavement,
we pitched our tent on a flat spot
at the edge of meadow, then hiked up
switchbacks toward the saddle ventana
in Venezuela, you explain, a window
to let the sky shine in between the peaks.

The trail, a dusty scar cut into flanks
of lupine verging blue to purple, scarlet-
bugles, and Indian paintbrush in a whole
palette of reds and oranges, pinks,
saffron with a touch of blood; crimson,
carmine, damask, ruby, rose.

As afternoon passed over our frontier,
a breeze pooled in the creek that spoke
in whispers quiet as a pulse. And then
above our camp the sky turned, well,
what color to describe the glory
seeping into clouds?

Rhubarb? you quipped, or maybe
beet-red? We'd used up
all our pretty words
on flowers.


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