By Stephanie Maurer
The sun before me, coat behind me, coffee within me
I am warmed in all directions in a dusty, desert morning.
The birds beginning, crickets ending, creek always flowing
There exists every shade of green out here: sage, emerald, forest, and
Within each space between leaves and thistles is
Purity and silence.
The towering cliffs create a space of peace, and their frailty reminds me
How frail the peace can be.
I feel contentment as well as loneliness, all wrapped up in
Dust, cacti, and wildlife.
In the road I walk each day are footprints, scattered.
Ringtail, frog, lizard, beetle and now human,
All traversing the same dirt path to different places
For different reasons.
The diversity of life this place sustains is shocking and sometimes humorous.
The predator/prey standards of the wild have everyone afraid of everyone else.
Everyone jumps, scurries, slithers and bolts away.
When I look at the sky at cliff-line I realize I even sometimes take for granted the color blue.
Toward the rising sun it is a robin’s egg
Distanced from the light it is a dark blue ocean.
With time one realizes this is more than just beauty.
Behind the sage that’s highlighted with orange flowers
Behind the buzz of passing hummingbirds, and
Behind the warmth of the rising sun
Lies struggle, starvation, dehydration and death.
I think that’s what creates the loneliness.
The vastness of the area makes me wish I could
Spread out my arms from atop a cliff and
Envelop all the space, or
Yell something unimportant into the canyons below.
The desert symphony is tranquilizing.
The towhee is digging in the leaf litter
The chickadee whistles about his territory
The bees buzz about their business, and
The wind creates soft background percussion with
The circular cymbals of aspen leaves.
Sunlight illuminates the webs of spiders in trees
They are soft, silk nests cradled between dried, rough and gnarled branches.
I find new life in shallow waters; tadpoles growing into
The next generation of frogs.
Even on slickrock something has decided to live-lichen.
In all the bitterness of heat, dryness, vastness and roughness
There is to be discovered the sweetness of
Soft silk, clear-flowing water, and new life.
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