Paul Willis

POETRY: The Forest Primeval by Paul Willis

January 9, 2019

I am five years old. It is a lamentable week—or two weeks—after Christmas in Anaheim. All the way around the block there are Christmas trees at mute attention on the curb. They are stripped of lights and stars and angels, and lean against the garbage cans with only a trace or two of tinsel, tawdry in the morning light. These trees are lonely, I decide. They need to be brought together somewhere to commiserate, to regain a semblance of miracle. Somewhere like my backyard. One by one, on a rescue mission, I drag them down the sidewalk and around our house and plant them one against the other, a thick entangling of grateful boughs. All afternoon I crawl inside their fragrant shade, touching open pockets of pitch and feeling needles rain [...]

POETRY: Christmas Child by Paul Willis

December 29, 2018

When you were born, sycamore leaves were brown and falling. They sifted through the stable door and laid their hands upon your cheek. Sunlight bent through cracks in the wall and found your lips. It was morning now. Joseph slept, curled on the straw in a corner. Your mother offered her breast to you, the warm milk of humankind, of kindness. You drank from the spongy flesh as you could, a long way now from vinegar, but closer, closer, closer than the night before. She cradles you, O Jesus Christ, born in blood and born to bleed, for this brief dawn a simple child, searching the nipple, stirring among the whisper, the touch, of [...]

POETRY: Freeman Creek Grove by Paul Willis

December 7, 2018

(Sequoia gigantea) Hiking down November snow, we saw the first one still below us, mounding up like a juniper in the Shasta fir and the sugar pine. Soon the trail entered its presence (with Thanksgiving a day behind), the trunk rising in dusky red, in fluted columns strangely soft to our curious touch. The first branches began at the tops of other trees and continued into familiar wonder, older perhaps than the Incarnation, and longer rooted, and while they are here, shedding for us new mercy of cones flung green and small on the white of our steps. We girdled the trunk with open arms, unable to circumference it, much less to find its center. In our random cries, in the things we said to our wandering children, I heard proclamation of [...]