small compared to the looming

we always sprinkle corn when we cross
this river for safe travels and
good luck
alton says before opening
the window
what river is it trish asks
in english he says the little colorado
but we just call it the female river

when the oak leaves are yellow he says
it means the deer are fat
majestic which is rarely a word i use
is all i can think upon encountering
the scale of all this gorgeousness
grand canyon style
we all have different languages
but our laughter is the same
our laughter is medicine

he says while we curve back down the
spiral of the staircase of the lookout
i dig my finger in the tin
to scoop out a sample of wildcrafted
sage lavender juniper salve
and then there i am
small compared to the looming canyon walls
rising around me
taking in the distant tumble
of the colorado river waters
something like meeting a celebrity
you, river, who i’ve read so much about
carrying on as if i haven’t been waiting
for this moment for so much of my life
and perhaps i have crossed your path before
but now that i know, or think i know, who you are,
everything that makes you means a million times more

passing through stands of ponderosa
how i want to get out of the car and press
my nose to trunk after trunk
of orange/pink tortoisey bark
driving through the canyoned curves and straightaways
we are in the gold
unable to take in the panorama
i absorb the light-soaked edges of
desert road (which, at this time of day,
lasts only minutes)
something about the color
the quality of glow looks like
sheafs of wheat rising
up around us
mama o’clock: stopped road-side we
take turns passing the phone around
dialing our mothers numbers as the sky dusks
and the air cools
from seat to seat in the parking lot
we pass around the croissants
and layer on the queso, avo, hummus with
some sides of tyler’s kimchee
we recognized those pants
tihpini (with pauletta) says
referring to the floral denim
as we path-cross outside
the tuba city grocery store
where i drop 25 cents in the machine
to receive the ring i’ve been waiting
for the desert to give me
the ring that says
i am of the universe
and the universe is of me
intrepid i say to trish
that works as a knuckle tattoo
“cautious” really hits on something i say
parked next to the flames raging in the stove
and say i like to contradict it
with “courageous”

when i’m traveling out in the world
there’s this sense, because i’m not partnered,
because people aren’t checking up on me,
that i could just blink out,

i explain in the back seat


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