M A R A L E E G R A Y S O N
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?
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.