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"Burning Bush”
Shelby Graham

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Dena Taylor

Perfect Timing

There comes a point
when you can’t stop
even if a tree falls in the forest
and anyway, the earth
is already moving

Turns out a tree did fall
crashed slowly, noisily
taking out smaller ones
somewhere near the house

We lay for a long time
holding tight while
our heartbeats slowed
senses returned to normal

Finally you said,
“Did you hear ….?”
And we laughed till our sides hurt
at this wondrous life


Look, I say, pointing to a balloon-strewn sign
proclaiming “Claire and Audrey”
A lesbian commitment ceremony
right here on my road --  Cool!

Maybe they’re twins, my daughter says
Having their birthday
Well, I shoot back
I suppose they could be cousins
or even friends born the same day
or a girl and her grandma

You could see if the sign’s there
next year, she tells me
But the grandma could be visiting
from Scotland just this once
or the friend could die

If it’s not there, she says
then maybe it is a lesbian wedding

The Day After the Election

I pulled up to the curb to let my daughter out
and saw the ticket-lady get out of her little white car
waving her arms at me.
I’m just dropping her off! She’s disabled! She lives here!
I didn’t need to be so loud.
Calm down. I just want to point out a place especially for that.
I calmed down. I looked at her. Her face fell.
I’m so sad today she said.
Me too. We both started crying.
She leaned in through my window and gave me a long hug.
Then she went around the car and hugged my daughter.
What’s your name? I’m Ruth. I’ve seen you around here.
I waved good-bye to both of them
and drove home the long way
so I could see the ocean.

Excerpted from Tell Me the Number before Infinity
by Becky Taylor and Dena Taylor

      Becky was invited to read at In Celebration of the Muse, the annual poetry reading event for Santa Cruz women writers. She read a poem that she had written a couple of years earlier about her despair at what was happening at the university. Later, I heard many reactions from those who were there: some cried, some said they never understood what Becky had gone through, others said how courageous she was, and some were disappointed because they couldn’t understand all her words. I felt it was a sharing with the community of what Becky’s life is like. She stood on the stage in front of 300 people, nervous, stuttering, giving them a piece of herself. I was very, very proud of her.
      The UCSC women’s studies librarian, in attendance that night, sent Becky a letter asking if she’d like to work for the Women’s Studies Department designing their website and doing other computer work. It was a temporary job, but Becky was very excited about it.
      Recently, while an old friend of mine was visiting, Becky told her how some people talk to her in a loud or high voice, as if she were hard of hearing or a young child. A few days later this friend left a message on the answering machine, saying she couldn’t stop thinking about what Becky had said, and asked if she would consider writing a poem about this and reading it while jazz musicians played behind her at a festival my friend was helping to organize in northern California. Becky called her back and said she’d never written a poem on demand before, but yes, she’d like to do it. The festival was scheduled for the weekend after graduation.


Dena Taylor – is the author, editor, or co-editor of six books on women’s issues, and most recently, the co-author of Tell Me the Number before Infinity, written with her daughter Becky Taylor. Its interwoven chapters tell the story of Becky’s life growing up with a disability.

In Celebration of the Muse
Jean Walton Wolff
Patrice Vecchione
Dena Taylor
Lisa Simon
Dee Roe
Joanna Martin
Cindy Knoebel
Rosie King
Helene Simkin Jara
Kate Hitt
Clifford Henderson
Carolyn Brigit Flynn
Sigrid Erro
Margaret Brose
Carol Brendsel
Barbara Bloom

Featured Artist
Shelby Graham


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