Archive for Paul J. Willis


This is the season of sourgrass,
shy, lovely, beside the driveway.
Hanna gathers the stalks in her arms
like so many sheaves of daffodils
across her shoulder, green, gold.

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A Lovely Girl

There is a girl reading on the lawn.
Last week a cypress tree fell where she lies.
Now there is grass, and peace—the tree is gone.
And there’s a girl reading on the lawn.

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Proposal in a Modest Meadow

Monkeyflower crowds the foot of a waterfall
(those buttercup faces, up to something),

and a dipper flies the bends of the creek
down to a veil of mountain hemlock.

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Barney Lake Trail

Jeffrey pine hold out their arms
where we begin. They drop their cones
whenever they are good and ready—
and we kick them aside with a little dance.

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White Chief Canyon

A steep climb to the crushed cabin,
rusty litter of mining tools
under the trees, and the creek
in the pasture is rocky and dry.

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This evening we are awash in light.
It buoys the mountains as if they have finally
found their proper medium, their true home,

as if only now the peaks and ridges
and chaparral have come to the surface
and are free to look around, to take in air,
to catch us up in their respiration.

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Dogwood blossoms mount into the sunshine
as if they were creators of light,
as if the air were only blue

because of them, as if the pale
cinnamon of sequoia bark were like
the moon, a borrowed glow.

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Skunk Cabbage

I’ve seen it in the hollows of the Cascades in Oregon,
and head-high on the trail from Juneau up to the Icefield,
there to perplex
the pink mouth of a black bear.

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Red, White, and Blue

In early March, the toyon berries hang
in embers, fading under pale explosions
of ceanothus—a froth, a kindling,
winter offering itself to spring.

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