Ghost Ranch, New Mexico

by Sally Zaino

You know the history of the cattle-rustlers and the wild dogs, of men hiding in crevices from other men with guns, but the sandstone walls draw your eyes to the sky and your thoughts to the rock’s dark bed beneath you. You are surrounded by bands of color—yellow, amber, red, purple, gray. Back here between the mesas, there is some kind of peace. These mesas are flat-topped, not like the worn-down stubble in the east—this is what’s left, not what arose. The one under your feet is topped with gypsum and you know, when you climb out to its edge, that you are standing on the bottom of the sea. Layered before you in every view is time. When it rains, the colors intensify—the gray layer is the dinosaurs, red-yellow is ancient dunes, and in the present, the stems of the sage are black against the sand—their blue-green leaves leap into the spaces of air left above the rust-red rock, where the sky begins.

Climb up the talus: watch the sandstone erode when the wind blows. Watch little piles of history gathering in the indentations and see the grains blow away like seconds. Then you know this is the layer you occupy, the air and the rock is around you; the future is above you. As you walk, here in the present, the song of the canyon wren will be your accompaniment forever; its bones will share your strata; this peace will rest with you in the stone. You will be buried, you will be exposed, you will be whole, you will be particles. Time will layer things deep and forward. You were here once, and you will always be here. The mesas slowly fall into the valleys. The sea will come again.


Click on first thumbnail above to view as slide show


Gypsum atop Kitchen Mesa 

Sage after Rain 

Sands of Time 

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