Two Poems by Maria Garcia Tabor


All She Knows of Redwoods, is All She Knows

Fire could not harm her—
outer self an effective abalative.
She stood with a torch of hair, tall,
until the day
she fell like a redwood
and refused to move.

She who had once lived among the giant trees
who’d crowd sunlight like beggars at a banquet.
Each beam fell to the floor
a spoon of gold dropped

onto the heart of this redwood stump.
Each ring a story—

of drought, when seedlings bowed
their shriveled heads, cracked
and were abducted by wind,
who knows nothing of mourning,
only movement
only flight.

of fire, that blazed like a zealot’s fervor
intent on destroying all the tender shoots,
a circle of blackness hides many horrors of that year,
a seal stamped on the earth when all the trees
stood stripped and leafless as terror.

of plenty when the forest rained with husks of seeds
cast out of the beaks of breeping birds,
out of the hearts of pinecones.
Acorn woodpeckers knocked and poked speckled
heads into holes that freckled the bark.
Ferns unfurled,
burnished salamanders
took refuge under the stump
who’d give no more of her secrets away

until,
many years later
a cathedral of trees swelled like a pipe organ
out of the seeming tragedy
of her fall.

 

Quasimoto Triptych

I. Not like Quasimoto

Like Quasimoto ringing the bell,
hike and hear it just so—

bouncing off the lips of canyons
dancing in
dandelion abandon.

she hears you echo
     fear is her foe
in a ceiling shadow.

You know where the switchback grows
in fields of wildflowers
blow by blow the wind goes—

did it make her want to go?
                 {no}.

 

II. When Quasimoto Dreams

It’s hard to make love when you’re a hunchback.
Harder still to find someone who sees
beyond your lopsided forehead, the hair on your hump.

You know her secrets and sing
Shakespearean love sonnets,
waver in shadows of candlelight: half hidden.

Look at yourself in fun house mirrors
and you are beautiful, perfect
as a ponderosa pine and twice as tall.

Bells ring and fall silent in lover’s hearts.
You know only fleeting moments,
shafts of time when you think they love you.

There is poetry in the way she speaks,
but she will never be yours.
In darkness they all look
the same when they call out your name,
but she will not come
to your bed, lost as she is in words.

III. Quasimoto on Religion

Bees consult a flower scroll in prostrations of worship.
They bow like Buddhists on pilgrimage
down on need pads, blocks for hands, fully prostrate
and up again. Fuzzy heads dip inside tulips
and emerge donning pollen crowns.

Fly to other flowers, she is not monogamous,
she does not stand sentry at your window
as you wash dishes in warm slippery water.
Stick your hand in a glass and turn it one rotation
to the left, it breaks and cuts you to the bone.
You do not even realize you are hurt
until red drops drip across
bubbles like a menstruating virgin
(don’t talk about such things).

She’s a woman and the rest is easy—
all round hips and ripe tomato.
At the water’s edge you sing
into waves that turn your words
into white static the shells repeat
incessantly to anyone who’ll listen.

People grow by the roadside in patches
of orange poppies— heads all blown in the wind
and bobbing. They don’t agree, only mimic
behavior of agreement. The mind goes there
when you let it. Over here—no
over there— in the hollow of a branch’s elbow.

Maria Garcia Tabor