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Cathy Paul: Haibun

Beyond Yosemite

Heat rises from the flat roads of Fresno in steamy waves. After the chill of San Francisco, heat embraces, initially welcome. I sit in the passenger seat and watch the vista unfold as the car begins the arduous climb. From groves where orange baubles fall, to pine laden hillsides where the temperature descends, we follow curving roads toward Yosemite. Farther, the road ascends to layers of cooler air and I, in response, drape a sweater around me to ward off the damp chill. The blue sky, the billowing clouds give way to fir tips. The scent of cedar, moist grass and earth blend to create a heady incense.

in tall meadow grass
an imprinted circle
a doe leaps away

Jays of bright blue embody their name--Stellar. They hop and call, the sequence a minuet of merriment, while their crests ruffle in the skirting breeze.

Into the primeval forest I walk, my footsteps quieted by many layers of evergreen needles. Incense cedars and sequoias create a canopy through which little light filters, enough to imply daylight, enough to imagine native footsteps preceding me through time.

passage of light
upon bare sequoia roots
closed May blossom

This is my last moment in the park before traveling on the road that will lead south, then west. I gaze upward, lost in the seeming infinity of these trees and their relationship to the past. Hush closes around me, an embrace of time and century-old echoes. Car tires snap on gravel.

Merced River rushes
white over boulders and stumps
ancient voices speak


Cathy Paul lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Her recent work appears in Crux.


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