Driving through Utah
Cracks and wrinkles in blue skin
sliver across the desert sky
like streaks of clouds.
The left and right horizons
are fractured jaw lines and coffee stained teeth.
The desert seems flat
but beyond the asphalt
lumps of sand spotted with tufts of grass
rise and fall: the moles and pores
of Utah's skin. Then a butte
and ridges, a wall
like shards of dark glass slicing into a brown back
bent forward at the waist from hard labor.
The acrid air abrades even human skin.
Funnels of wind
rise and dissipate
in the distance: rust red,
burnt orange sand and gravel. The turn
to Moab and the National Park
promises fossilized dunes, like layers of stretch marks
and cellulite across the belly,
and geologic fractures,
beauty framing the blue,
leaking sky and tears of sunlight
between round windows and arches
of granite and sandstone,
formations like ogres, like trolls,
like abstract sculptures and sand paintings
defying the world's evil spirits,
to balance the spirits
of breathing creatures.
Tourists' car radios, cameras,
caravans of RV's and plastic water bottles
leak the world into this space,
a hot wind billowing out of the horizon,
a haze that distorts the landscape
into photos and family vacations.
We are all guilty of anthropomorphism.
The arches continue to stretch and lean
despite the humans hiking and posing around them.
Snakes, lizards and scorpions, ravens
rabbits, yucca, pinion pines, prickly pear cactus,
live despite us. The sands burn and cool, shift
and erode, despite us.
The asphalt road circles back to the entrance of the park.
The desert and mountains
stretch and streak and wind and drop and rise
Patricia Hanahoe-Dosch has been published in The Atticus Review, War, Art and Literature, Confrontation, The Red River Review, San Pedro River Review, Marco Polo Arts Magazine, Red Ochre Lit, Nervous Breakdown, Quantum Poetry Magazine, The Paterson Literary Review, Abalone Moon, Apt, Switched-On Gutenberg, Paterson: The Poets' City (an anthology edited by Marie Mazziotti Gillan), and MALALA: Poems for Malala Yousafzai (a Good Works anthology by FutureCycle Press to raise money for teh Malala Fund), among others. Articles of hers have appeared in Travel Belles, On a Junket, and Wholistic Living News. Her story, "Sighting Bia," was selected as a finalist for A Room of Her Own Foundation's 2012 Orlando Prize for Flash Fiction. My story, "Serendip," was published in In Posse Review.