Tricia Knoll

Red Rocks of Southern Utah

Layer upon layer teased,
pick and peel to bedrock.
Spirit winds chip away.
In Utah’s red-rock ribbon strata
stone panoramas host stand-up
theaters, vermillion castles, and keyholes.
Sunshine sticks in jagged sandstone craws,
crevices, cuestas, cradles and crèches,
wombs and windows
old and blood red.
Lightning summons house lights
sideways, daring crooked.  

Parowan Gap
The chief: It’s God’s own house.  
Waitress: A mystery you can drive to.
Chainlink circles holy space
of petroglyph stars, moon arrows, and crops
where pioneers chiseled their initials.
Scientists talk of gnomons,
azimuths, and zipper glyphs,
its promises, desert connected
to more desert by wind on scoured rock.

In-Between Places
On the way from here to there in Utah,
human handiwork is small scale
stuff of visionaries and outcasts:
broken barbed wire fences,
rock walls, hard hand labor.
Trucks hauling ATVs breeze
through Virgin and Rockville,
scoot over Coal Pits Wash.
Sunflowers bob in grueling sun.
Hawks glide over tourist traps
and ostrich farms where water measures
in weeps and seeps.

The desert can be the quietest place
or choked with people scrabbling
for parking to buy bottled water.
Directions go by south or north
of Walmart.
Bristlecone pines model growing old
with integrity.
Multi-use forests show where paths
cross, lifestyles converge
streams and reservoirs,
forests, plank
trails and snowmobile alleys.

Zion, the sanctuary.
The firstborn named it
Mukuntuweap, straight-up land,
Which wind blows a true name?
Coming-on is under new management.
Stewardship demands
buses replace cars.
By streams turgid with red mud after flash
storms, caretakers rip out
salt cedars, planting willows.
Politicians promise to investigate
mine collapses.

Old footprints whisper of sweat
and grit. Rock abides as caverns and pillars
tubes and towers
in red sand coat.
Nomads drift in desert tides
of flash floods and droughts.  
Wind calls the gap.

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