Bill Galvin

Gold Star - 12,979 Points (1911 / Boston, MA)

Reunion Number Sixteen - Poem by Bill Galvin

Zion National Park, Kolob Canyon, Utah

As the most cooperative of Traveling Companions
You will understand my change of plans.
Yesterday, I drove from Bryce thru Zion Tunnel
By the Checkerboard Mesa area
In order to get to the other side of the Park
And the town I was overnighting in.
It was about 4 PM on a Friday, and my plan
Was to come back Saturday to reunite you
With the North Fork of the Virgin River,
Which flows thru Zion Canyon, past
Angels Landing and the Court of the Patriarchs.

There are so many memories here…
The first time we found this place in the 70s,
We camped outside the park and got the last site;
But the ground was covered with dime-size holes,
And I said, no way, whatever comes out of them
Can eat thru a tent bottom. So we got a motel.
Then the year you could not hike with me
To the top, so I hiked up Walters Wiggles
To the rim at Scout Overlook.
You waited at the lodge, and next day we took
Short, low level trails, like Weeping Rock,
Where you loved the colorful columbine flowering.
But I told you that you had to see the top one day.
I said then, that we would be back,
And you’d be stronger. Then you got the kidney,
And we returned a year afterward,
And, hard as it was for you, you paced yourself,
And we found ourselves together at the rim,
Looking down at river and road on the canyon floor,
And across to The Great White Throne.
You climbed a steep 1200 feet, with long drop-offs,
On a trail rated “strenuous” in the Hiking Guide.
We went back to the Lodge,
And rested under huge cottonwood trees
Dropping their cottony catkins all over.
We came back to camp at the Park campground,
In the days before reservation, and were shocked
To get an open site right on that river;
Where we could go down the sandy embankment
And watch the river flow outside our tent flap door.

Well, Grand Canyon is overcrowded; Zion is worse.
Another shuttle system promising long waits,
Especially on a Saturday when I would be there.

So, I am staying in Cedar City, and a remote area
Of Zion National Park called Kolob Canyon
With a separate entrance, is nearby.
Only about 2% of visitors go there; it’s out of the way,
And the magnificence is less rewarding;
We never went there, but, it suits our purposes.

I find a trail that goes 5 miles into backcountry,
But early on passes Taylor Creek,
Which flows to Ash Creek, then the Virgin River,
Which that same North Fork flows into.
It is such a lovely, lonely, private stream.
All hikers look at it, then move on. But,
I follow it downstream a bit, and around a bend
On wet, red sand and small water-worn stones.
The evidence of heavy flow from snow melt
Or flash floods is present in the eroded walls
And the large, strewn boulders.
But, right now, it’s perfect for us.

Coal black ravens ride thermals overhead;
Cedar trees dominate the hillsides,
With cottonwood budding at the river banks.
This narrower canyon is lorded over
By a backdrop of the typical Zion red rock mesas
With desert varnish streaking the sandstone cliffs.

There are other footprints here, so I follow
Deer tracks down river to a nice sitting boulder,
With a ledge; it’s like our love seat at home, only
Out in the warm sun, with rippling stream sounds.
You would love this place.
There’s a chill blowing up the canyon now and then;
Here, take my jacket, snuggle up next to me;
Let me put my arm around you
And I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.
We’ve got this place all to ourselves today.
Nowhere to go. Nothing else to do.

First, I will place some of your locks in this
Fresh, deep, deer print in the wet, red sand,
And cover it over; then top it with a cross
Made from long dried ponderosa pine needles.
They will remain till the next summer flash flood
Caused by a desert thunderstorm up country.
Now, I will place another packet of locks
In the stream; in the nice pleasant, gentle flow.
The two to four inch depth makes it easy.
So easy, I can meander with you as you float
Ever so gradually and gracefully downstream;
I am with you at your side, still again, Baby.
I so wish it were hand-in-hand. Sorry… Ah…
So sorry for the tears. Too damn sentimental.
I will walk with you for a good 75 feet,
Until some small rapids take you swiftly away
Between larger boulders, and a steeper decline.
Goodbye, once more, my Dear One.
I miss you. Can you hear me? I miss you.

I release my heartache loudly;
Pull at the hair of my head;
Reach my hands to the sky,
When you again leave my sight,
Just like that last night.
I channel the anguish of the ages,
Of every one who has ever lost a beloved,
Since the dawn of mankind…
They have acted in this very scene.

I stand in meditative contemplation
On this journey of endless ebb and flow,
And of ephemeral footprints in the sands;
All to be washed away one day,
And replaced by newer ones, fresher ones.
And on, and on, and on.

As I regain composure leaning against a boulder,
The Spring’s first desert butterflies emerge
And bask in the sun around me.
They’re not really pretty, but they are butterflies.

A raven calls to a loved one circling high above.


Topic(s) of this poem: love and loss

Comments about Reunion Number Sixteen by Bill Galvin

  • Lyn Paul (4/5/2015 4:21:00 AM)

    I thank you for sharing this heartfelt journey of your heartache. Yet an incredible written documentary at a sad time, giving you a road to healing. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 5, 2015

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