M A R A  L E E  G R A Y S O N

1 poem

I'VE COME TO CALIFORNIA

to find my father’s ghost and have
a chat: what did you drink

at Wallace Stegner’s birthday party?
(A lot of applejack.)

what did they say about Steinbeck
at Stanford? (That he wasn’t

a great American author.)
how does someone fall asleep

with the Pacific Ocean stirring so?
(Close your eyes and think

of nothing.) Tell me the story
one more time.

In July a spider crawls across the morning
of his memory. Sun is shining

in all the wrong places; the spider’s legs
are bent. It’s always something, it says.

It knows itself too well.
One never can resist the gauze

of fly-wings spread and netty.
I can sympathize;

I’ve spent the past ten years hanging
from the shelf of my father’s voice:

will I ever see you peel an apple
with a pocket knife? how do I stand

in the shadow of a spotlight?
why did you come back?

Professor, where is there to go from here
where east is east and west

is like a lampshade,                         dressing up the sun?

Text Title

Mara Lee Grayson’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Mobius, Fiction, Columbia Journal, Poetry Northwest, West Trade Review, Sierra Nevada Review, CutBank, and other publications. Her poetry has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of two books of nonfiction and an assistant professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills. You can find her on Twitter @maraleegrayson.