December 2006



Linda Prather: inspired by the peace and beauty of the Central Valley

I started writing poetry seven years ago, which evolved from keeping a daily journal. After noticing poetic lines popping up, I began lifting them out, first in the form of devotional writings and later in verse.

I was encouraged to continue writing after attending my first poetry reading at the State Theater with the distinctive voice of Wilma Elizabeth McDaniels and local poet and Modesto Junior College teacher, Lillian Vallee. I have since had the privilege of taking Ms. Vallee’s poetry class.

Other strong influences have included Thomas Merton, Rumi, Federico Garcia Lorca, Robert Bly, Billy Collins, and pastoral poets Charles Wright and Mary Oliver, as well as the peculiar voice and percussive rhythms of Atsuro Riley, and many local poets.

In 1997 I became involved with Reconciliation Networks of Our World, an interdenominational organization of Christians working for reconciliation through story-driven conferences. RNOW continues to hold conferences every two years where people from all continents bring their personal stories of struggle and healing in places like Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and South Africa. My part has been one of awareness and support through intercessory prayer groups.

In 1998 I participated in the Oakhurst Sacred Assembly in Oakhurst, California, a meeting of spiritual leaders who met for reconciliation through prayer, repentance and forgiveness, acknowledging and working through hurts and atrocities of the past with native peoples of California.

This year I plan to travel to Israel on a tour called, “Journey of Understanding” to visit the Old City of Jerusalem and historical sites, hear the varied perspectives of Israeli Jewish, Christian, and Muslim friends, and connect with people engaged in the work of reconciliation, some of whom have been a part of the Reconciliation Walks started by Lynn Green.

I am a member of Valley Sun Catchers, a Plein-Air painters group. The peace and beauty of the natural environment inspires much of my art and poetry.

I am a member of The Poets of the San Joaquin, a chapter of California Federation of Chaparral Poets, and of the editorial staff of the poetry journal, Song of the San Joaquin. My poetry has appeared in several publications, including Penumbra, Rattlesnake Review, Time of Singing, Poets Corner, and hardpan.

I live in Modesto with my husband, Jeff Prather, an attorney practicing private mediation and bankruptcy law.


Still Wildness

I love encountering again
turns and twists of one particular oak

Late afternoon mirror
on the smooth face of Dry Creek

Wet flight of mallards
when I near waters edge

Tawny gold at sunset
on the dry flood plain

Walking my own path
crunching summer beneath my feet

Ways of the woodlands
answering approaching night

Evening wind moving with familiarity
among the branches

Wildness still calling
on the edge of a sprawling city.


Lightning flashed —
sky lit up in the south
on that warm Fresno night.
We had quarreled earlier—
threw sparks of our own
about certain issues.
With no agreement in sight
we both wanted to bolt
like frightened mustangs
on a dry summer summit,
then go crashing down
through steep ravines
from which there is no return.
So, I extended my hand —
an attempt to bridge the gap
between those things…
a place where truth begins.

Questions In The Field

Familiar field at dusk,
filled now with things that thrive
in dry places:
Thistle, datura,
white, and lavender wildflowers,
wild oats, scattered maize,
tumbleweed, oak, and eucalyptus
all jutting out of this straw bed,
golden in the late day.

I wonder at the touch of velvet
that is the leaf and pod of the field lily,
its pale flower, violet edged;
the way it rolls its softness up at sundown,
unfurling again at dawn
to bathe in morning’s rays.
Does it revere the largest celestial body
in our solar system,
rising like a monk in the solitude
of early hours to worship?

Do the little birds chirp their cheerful
refrains for me when I cannot cry or sing?

Do the long waving grasses swish green blades
heavenward like Buddhist prayer flags
on mountain terraces?

Does the ancient oak stand its ground
to prove a point:
that roots run deeply in darkness,
rivers flow unnoticed beneath parched ground?

Does the star thistle bloom a shade of yellow
it knows can overcome oppressive heat?

Do all these intercede in mercy for those who sit
beneath fluorescent lights, pushing
paper and pen in cold windowless rooms?

A lone dove sits silently upon a wire.
Water sprays wet mists at the falls
just beyond this field of questions.

Wait of Grief

The way we carry grief—
not knowing what to do with it;
balance that load of stones
in us and on us—
even unconsciously;
invisible burden of our loss.

And sometimes, though rarely,
overwhelmed, we loose composure,
begin to weep, then wonder…


Large hands
Generous hands

Hands with heart
Hands extended

Connecting hands
Guiding hands

Hands of friendship
Hands of love

Hands carrying laughter
Hands holding tears

Hands that feed
Hands that bleed

Have become your hands