Reluctant darkness begins to withdraw.
Plants are only dark blobs, if they are living,
and white skeletons, if they are dead.
Surrounding rock columns are ogres in the gloom;
we are afraid to rouse them with any sound.
Only the wind dares make a sound.
As the first signs of day lighten the horizon
shades of pink and red emerge
revealing mesas below in the valley
like giant tree stumps.
At first we see only rocks and sparse low plants
clinging to the ground to thwart the wind.
Small pools trapped on the rock
ripple with the wind’s breath.
Soon the bright eye of sun pierces El Greco clouds.
Signs of erosion are everywhere.
Red soil looks like wounds
in the wind-tortured stone.
Bands of loose rock
fractured by severe temperature swings
resemble mummified organs desiccated by the sun.
Hardy water-hoarding plants
colonize cracks in stone surfaces
filled with the sand of crumbling rocks.
Closer study shows lichens crusting many surfaces,
and dark living soils
formed of algae, fungi and minerals.
Sparrow calls add a new sound
and more evidence of the tenacity of life
on this desert mountaintop.
We are intruders, exposed by daylight.
© 2009 Michael Yanega
10 April 2009
(Revised 20 May 2009)
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