Late October, Mineral King

Late October, Mineral King
by Paul J. Willis

It is the kind of afternoon in which
shade and sun please equally.
Smoke-filled valleys pale below,
but we climb into bluer skies
on remnant snow in the ravines.

How does the trail know where
to turn? Why do the wood grouse
wait for us around the bend?
What makes each pair of trees we pass
a new door, an old welcome?

—Sequoia National Park

—from Say This Prayer into the Past