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Making Trail
Paul Willis (bio)

At first, he raked a few eucalyptus limbs
and leaves from the face of the ground, cut
down some poison oak. But soon
he had shoveled a dirt path up every canyon
of the campus, laid out switchbacks
on the hills, connected stream to stream
until a secret web contained us all.

It kept growing. He found himself asking
the college president if she wouldn’t mind
the occasional hiker just below her patio.
And he thought about the Winchester House
in San Jose, the woman who added room
to room, built stairways into empty space.

Why is it when we start something, we cannot stop?
Cheops and his pyramid, rails to Omaha—
trenches on the Somme, perhaps. Or, on a sunny
afternoon, just tinkering around with an atom.

Lately he has been pondering the luster of soil,
the shape and scent of it, winding across the cranberry
carpet of the faculty lounge. How it would meander
like the flaking crest of a gopher’s passage,
taking the eye out the door, into the distance.

Paul Willis

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