An oil painting —
My interpretation of the southwest canyons—a place etched into my skin. I fell in love with the colors the first time I hiked in the canyons.
National Park publications, brochures, books, signs, graffiti, and my own weavings to hold it together
I drive to Flagstaff on I-40,
past signs advertising
the continental divide,
Yellowstone Trading Post
Teepee Coffee House
Large Selection of Pipes and Chewing Tobacco
Chee’s Indian Store and Rock Shop
Stop 1/2 Mile Ahead
to Pony’s Best Western
The following day I drive to Zion
and stop for gas behind
a Batesville Casket Company truck.
The women’s room dispensers
stock tampons, hand lotion, aspirin and
fruit flavored condoms.
Ninety-Nine degrees and no humidity.
I hike to Emerald Pools where
colored reflections on sandstone
leave mineral stains,
while joints and waterfalls
follow the grain of the land—
I drive to Bryce in the late afternoon
and dine on “Champagne Trout”
three nights out of four,
hike Queen’s Garden Trail
past Gulliver’s castle and Queen Victoria,
then Navaho Loop,
Wall Street rises two hundred feet
from the canyon floor.
Only a sliver of sky is visible.
Two towering Douglas-fir trees
live in this narrow chasm.
A maze of erosional forms—
Orange hoodoos formed by gullies.
I hike the Fairyland Loop
to the bottom of Fairyland Canyon—
passing around Boat mesa, a
section of Campbell Canyon,
Tower Bridge, the Chinese Wall, and
the remains of Oastler’s castle.
Highway 12 to Capitol Reef.
A winding road with hairpin turns
along the edge of Waterpocket Fold,
ancient seas cemented with
limestones, shales and sandstones.
Water chiseled and sculptured this land.
Here in this place,
this Red Rock Eden
pioneers planted apples,
Now the rangers warn you of cougars.
I buy an autographed copy of Carol Brown’s
She writes, I linger in the Utah canyons,
even on a cold day...with my back
against ancient petroglyphs I can see
a hundred miles into space
and millions of years
back into history...
— the road
winds through a desolate moonscape.
The Terra-cotta blanches
and becomes ash gray.
Once past Hanksville color returns
until it becomes Entrada limestone,
a muddy sandstone, Slick Rock —fine-grained
sandstone that forms cliffs and narrow fins—
the building blocks of Arches.
Desert varnish flows down sandstone cliffs,
a patina of gold, brown and black.
We hike Park Avenue to Courthouse Towers
and step over ancient dunes
cemented into place.
We pass Sheep Rock,
and the Tower of Babel.
— on someone’s car—
"Work Sucks—I’m Going to the Desert"