Aspen Diary, June 20

We've climbed past spruce and fir
to a snowmelt meadow that sinks
under our bootsteps. Just beyond
is the aspen grove. See how the skin
of one old white-bark tree has scabbed
around a long-dead sheepherder's
initials, a word or two in Basque.
Notes on the weather? Or the way
to better grazing? Maybe remembrance
of a girl he left in other mountains.

By August this green meadow
will be shoulder-high in helibore
and lupine, butterweed; our late-
spring footprints, gone. We'll find
our way by tree-bark carvings
in a language we don't understand,
diary of some sheepman's day.

Taylor Graham