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Creek Running North

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December 05, 2005


A thousand pounds of plaster and stucco hung on lath. A thousand pounds of concrete set into bedrock. The bedrock moves north at half an inch per year, though she rarely feels temblors. She sees the evidence instead. The wall has no doors: they have rested against a wall in the garage for three years waiting for me to strip their paint. They do not slam and move the picture frames. Instead those frames move slowly, imperceptibly, a shard of difference with each slow heave of the enfolding earth.

Once every few months she straightens them.

There is a rock in a narrow desert valley we know, a boulder as large as a house. A hole pierces it. There is ancient art inside. She crouched in there one day, reading the pictographs: I took her photo.

It hangs on the wall now, creeping slowly counter-clockwise as the earth shifts beneath it.

And in the flat Ironwood desert to the south, I shot another photo from a hilltop. She and Zeke sat on the valley floor. They are specks against the lava. That photo hangs there as well. A side canyon off the Colorado, and she sits in a cold water stream ten days downriver. She is wearing black spandex, her body and the slickrock rhyming. Above her the side canyon opens into a broad bowl.

Three I shot with her standing next to me: an ignominious coyote begging for sandwiches in the Little San Bernardinos and a bighorn ram in the Canyon. A broad view from a promontory in Utah. Two old ones from the Canyon's rim: in a short yellow dress, she rests in her mother's arms. A petroglyph hunter, bow in hand, surprises a pronghorn. Another coyote considers a roadside Joshua tree.

On nights when I fall asleep propped up on elbows, the same paragraph read ten times with failing eyes, I turn and listen to our owl clicking past the window. She is insensible beside me, and studying desert pictographs across the room. For a decade she has considered the walls of that rock womb. The owl flies past again. Bighorn ram heralds my coyote dreams.

Posted by Chris Clarke at December 5, 2005 11:42 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs


i love this. simple and heartfelt.

Posted by: Anne at December 6, 2005 09:21 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

What Anne said but add elegant and lyrical.

Posted by: OGeorge at December 6, 2005 11:58 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I followed until the final graph then lost my way ... is she insensible while studying the pictographs? or are you doing the studying? sorry - I feel kinda stoopid here.

Posted by: peacebug at December 6, 2005 01:38 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Good catch! The She in the photo is studying the petroglyphs.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 6, 2005 01:45 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

ah! *very* nice.

Posted by: peacebug at December 7, 2005 07:08 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Mmm. Nice.

Posted by: Rana at December 7, 2005 10:18 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs