Taylor Graham, "Talavera"



          after the quake


As if spilled milk glazed over native sands

hard-fired but not unbreakable—


my dog padding over porcelain no longer 

ornamental, fragments of


tiles delicate blue on white, sky painted on 

cloud, the world topsy-turvy 


with shattered walls. Rhythmic breathing 

of my dog inhaling scent 


that rises through cracks from tiny cells 

of space, how far


beneath—what had been corridor and room— 

bronchioli, alveoli— 


compressed effectively as if a giant stepped 

across this portion of 


city, fragments of lintel rebar bone. 

But look. Someone 


has set aside one blue and white tile 

unbroken—as if 


to neaten, no, as token of a chance to raise 

one living from the dead.



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 Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), poems about living and working with her canine search partners over the past 40 years.