LAST OF SUMMER by Taylor Graham

Swallows became small boys
concealed in the old barn’s drafty
loft. No, the swallows after all these
summers were immune
to small-boy sorcery. They caught a slip-
stream off the brisk westwind
that skimmed up-canyon, intersection
of willow-stringer through
the cow-camp meadow, two miles
of washed-out road through encircling
forest. The foremost in our tribe
of hiders was off to college.
My old dog, once so adept at finding
him, lay by the pickup, sensing
changes. Ravens gathered notorious
in the tops of pines, raucous
with a croaky undertone of thunder
to their corvid-latin. Would it
storm? The clouds
converged. We gathered up
our wrappers, scrims of poems
from the flower-fading
of July; a bowl of leftover
words to take back down the hill
and home; each word
possibly the seed
of a coming winter’s song.


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. She’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor was awarded the Robert Philips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her current project is a collection of dog poems, about living with her canine search partners over the past 40 years; What the Wind Says is due out in 2014 from Lummox Press.