tess taylor

I used to hate its working-class bungalows, grid planning,
power-lines sawing hillsides. It shamed me

the way my parents did for not making more money.
Now it looks like a Diebenkorn.

Now I want even the bad wood siding
in our living room, my mother’s aging

books on modern Indian thought. Her tanpura
in sunlight. I want fox-weed in railroad trestles,

the endangered frogs in our gully.
I want a lemon tree.

On San Pablo, polyester collectibles, a folk-song store,
the “All-Button Emporium: Open 10-4  Saturday’s.”

How did love lodge in these?
It might be how marigold light

forgives even the traffic islands.
December only yellows the gingkoes and reddens the maples.

A stream smells rich under our house.
For Christmas, my sister and I steal

persimmons from neighbors’ yards.
Ten years on, I discover

how I keep falling in love here
among pickups and blackberry brambles.

Tonight it happened again:
We drove a bad car to the beach.

At dusk, a lone scrub pine—
clear, like a Japanese print. In the real sky, the moon

slid through clouds that were cinder-colored.


Tess Taylor’s chapbook, The Misremembered World, was selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s 2003 New York Fellowship and published by the PSA. Her work appears in Harvard Review, Southwest Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, the Times Literary Supplement, Literary Imagination, Verse Daily, Guernica, and Memorious. Read more about her work at