You can’t take a picture of this.
No matter the angle, the pictures are just rocks, sky, water.
Nothing stirs in me when I look at them.
I am still caught in the swell of forgettable catastrophes, tight and hurried.
I delete every one of them. And then I take a few more.
Halfway up the sheer rock wall that dwarfs me is a tiny alcove—pale reddish brown rock against endless black verticals
aaaaaa—my safe place in the universe.
I hover in that alcove, watching the one stream waterfall in its halo of fine mist, an unseen hand taking a big red eraser to the tourists below, the world staying on that side of this completely insurmountable, red rock wall.
What is it about this place that unwinds the soul, one chink at a time?
My grandfather spent a lifetime exploring and photographing these paths
aaaaaa—Zion’s, Bryce, Capital Reef, Goblin Valley, Cedar Breaks.
The idle moments of his last months were filled with long, scenic drives.
If I asked him where to go he would say, “Keep driving ‘til you see red rock.”
It became a funny story to tell.
But now that I have found refuge in these walls I wish I would have granted
a dying man’s last wish, driven 8 hours in the desert, sat
at the base of the soaring rock and accompanied him
aaaaaahalfway on his journey to heaven.
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Marianne Hales Harding is a playwright and personal essayist who landed in poetry due to time constraints. Nationally produced and locally lauded (she was Playwright in Residence for the Utah Shakespeare Festival), she is also the mother of two, a dog owner, and a marathon finisher.
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