Reunion Number Fifteen - Poem by Bill Galvin
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Not many places are as unique as Bryce,
A true natural wonder.
Deb and I last were here in ’97,
A year after the kidney donated by Paul.
She was able to participate more
In outdoor strenuous activities,
Like hiking Bryce, Zion, Canyon de Chelley,
And even Grand Canyon part way down.
I recall hiking among the hoodoos here
At the canyon floor, and we watched
A family of pronghorn meander about nearby.
A scene straight out of a fairytale.
You were invigorated that summer
By your newfound strength and endurance.
I drive into the park to locate the loop trail
That took us down and back to the car.
I am mesmerized once more by the pink cliffs
Weathered into sculpted towers and statues.
I drive miles beyond the trail we took
While my mind wanders to when we were young
And allowed our minds to open
As we absorbed all Nature could teach us.
I drive past Inspiration Point, Ponderosa Canyon,
Black Birch Canyon, before I backtrack
On the 18 mile dead end road on the rim.
- - - - - - - -
(((My longing has deepened suddenly
On this drive as I enter the park,
While Native American musical visions
Accompany me; the background is filling
With esoteric sounds and wistful wanderings.
After many days in various tribal territories
I feel welcomed back to these Spiritlands,
Where my trail of memories continues.
So many days in these dry desert climes, but,
My well of tears never runs dry for you, My Dear.
My longing deepens with each turn I take,
Each hill I climb, every coyote call,
Every pound of an ancient drum,
Each desert flower in bloom,
Each and every sight I see once more, alone.
They draw me closer to the summit of my journey,
To the edge of my reality; taking the form of
An urging to go down new spiritual pathways
Taking me to the core of my being.
Bless me, Father. And answer me this:
Am I on a true pilgrimage, or
Am I truly torturing myself?
Will I find my way out? Will I know it’s over?
My well of tears never runs dry… never dry.
The Great Spirit beckons me
With haunting flutes and drums
To go forward to see what there is to see.)))
- - - - - -
I locate this trail we took together
And prepare for a chilly 39 degree descent.
An extra flannel shirt and hat, a pack
With cold tea and apple pie left over
From a cool cowboy sandwich joint.
A park sign reminds me that it’s 2 miles down;
Which means 2 more back up; the old
“Canyon is a mountain in reverse” trick.
The sign also said something like,
“Bill, you shouldn’t do this yet.”
I plod on down,
Like all canyon walkers on the downslope,
Full of energy and optimism; blissfully unaware
That much more energy is needed to get out.
A few hundred feet down, steep switchbacks
Have an effect on these old knees,
So I hesitate to go all the way down.
I find a level area within ponderosa pines
And mountain mahogany shrubs;
So, I sit and rest in meditation.
It is so peaceful, the deepest quiet
Between two steep cliffs of pink limestone,
A murmur of breeze brushed by evergreens.
Shhh… listen… shhh… a ripple, a trickle,
A Water Spirit dancing, singing nearby.
The narrowest of seasonal streams flows
From above taking only snow melt water
To the bottom. I look up. There’s hardly
A patch of snow left. This will be dry soon.
But, serendipitous fortune follows me these days.
I just go forward to see what there is to see
As the Great Spirit beckoned me.
My Water Spirit, my Deb, came through again.
She knew this old body had to turn around.
She moved the sun into position to warm
The snow and send its last melt water my way.
She silenced the winds and birds so I’d hear.
I traipse over to a good spot; lay my pack down.
I can straddle this streamlet, and I offer
A pinch of Deb’s locks to the swift flow
Of what I discover feeds Sheep Creek,
In turn, going to the canyon floor
(Maybe you’ll see more deer and antelope at play)
Then joins Paria River at Cottonwood Canyon;
And ultimately, the mighty Colorado.
I wish her safe travels. She says “ditto, ditto”.
My uphill stride is shorter than it used to be,
And the last hundred feet or so,
I lope like the old man I am,
Taking breathers every 50 feet
To calm the old heart rate down.
Maybe it’s the thin air at 8000 feet? Nah.
But, the sweet, sweaty nature of this hike
Back to nature, and back in time,
Invigorates and gratifies my soul,
And satisfies an old body, as it does its best
To recapture those trail partnering days.
Vaya con Dios, Amor de mi Vida.
4-3-2015 (Cedar City, Utah)
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