Beth Paulson




You walk uphill in silent snow

between silhouettes of pines


where everything is ice-clear—

the creek, rimed rocks, frozen


branches of willows. So much                       

we think we know can be lost—


yesterday, this moment, 15 billion

brain cells, 100 billion stars


in the galaxy. Somewhere we store

the scent of wet wool, soup on gray


days, cracks in sidewalks, an old

wallpaper pattern. A child’s


mementos carried in her pocket

later require luggage, boxes for books,


a rental trailer pulled into a new town,                      

van across the desert to California


where a small bungalow holds

everything until it takes two stories,


eight rooms, so much space for

a future. How the years fill with


the work of living, energy and matter

constantly switching places partway


between love and death. Now downsize

the new word to keep what matters


most, you study Zillow for two

bedrooms, walk-in closet, close


market, read synapse retrieval slows,

a brain runs out of niches. This morning


you can’t recall where the snow-covered

path forks, why five planets align,


the name of a distant peak against

the blue. Two deer browsing lift heads,


your eyes meet briefly before the forest

takes them back as if they never were.

Beth Paulson is the author of several collections of poems, including Wild Raspberries, The Company of Trees, and The Truth About Thunder. Her most recent book is Canyon Notes (Mt. Sneffels Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in more than one hundred national literary magazines and anthologies; her work has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. Paulson lives in Ouray County, Colorado, where she teaches writing classes and also leads Poetica, a monthly workshop for poets. She is a co-founder and co-director of the Open Bard Poetry Series in Ridgway, Colorado. Previously, she served as a columnist for the Ouray County Plaindealer for ten years and taught English at California State University in Los Angeles for over twenty years. You can read more of her poetry at



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