Briefly in the Promised Land


“Briefly in the Promised Land”


The second night camping at the Grand Canyon, the sound of wind

in rock-ocean below is indistinguishable from the crash and roar of a real ocean. Lightening

wakes me twice, the second time long enough to realize what it is,

to keep coming, to be beautiful. The feel of sleeping on the ground is like floating

in an ocean that holds you up so strongly you have no feel of falling,

only of being held and pulled down at once by something huge—

a loving woman, a great lake of love, and a softer body than any that could pierce.


Naturally then from there to Zion. Zion is a woman:

towering rock breasts, rusty rock sex, and mud-rushing river named wishfully—

Court of the Patriarchs, Hidden Canyon, Virgin River—

by men who wanted sanctuary so bad they crawled inside

the womb of the west with five wives and died.

She has her own wonders worth it, too,

hanging gardens suspended cliff-side,

rock-colors bursting white-orange-red, mountains circling overhead

like a mobile, like a vulture, and like a mother.


Neither mother nor child, I’m rusty like the mountains.

Rusty with the blood of being a woman,

marked by force, threat, the derogation of bargaining for what is mine

that you cannot buy, the defeats of insisting on humanity

when the necessity of insistence is its own denial.


Neither young nor old, I’m rusty in showing myself naked to the world,

or those in it who could see me if I could let them,

and might even show themselves to me in turn.


Neither temple nor priest, I’m rusty

with women, with myself, and with trusting that I can know either of us,

that I can be real as sacred rock—and as protected.


The road from Zion to Arches hugs me warmly next, hills rising up around my car

like an ocean, rising up in waves of yellow, green, brown, and distant blue,

as white sun arms of sky and road encircle my waist, resting on the small

of my back, caressing my head and face,

reminding me rock breaks, changes, requires care.

Do you think Zion remains just because she’s beautiful?

The temple of eternity itself required bureaucracy to survive civilization.