I tell lies.
Tell myself they are little
perfect geometric shapes;
they glint like zircons.
Tell myself they are white
as snow on branches
that slump, freighted,
under a lucid sky.
There is a house, set apart,
cut off by fences.
Far from the highway, the place
at the dead end of a rutted path.
Here my lies collect,
gather in drifts,
fill in the potholes,
overtop the rails.
They erase what separates me;
a crisp white sheet on a rotted porch.
Now a blanket that billows up the siding,
obscures the windows,
rises past the eaves,
where I lie.
I've come aground at Capitol Reef
in Mormon country somewhere between
the crippled spires of Bryce,
the sullen arches of Moab–
nowhere near Zion.
The story in Hanksville goes
this ridge was spilled
from a pocket, became the folds
of a rust red coat cast off by a minor god.
One snowy fold harbors my shadow,
it shivers in the pallid light.
It's too cold to choose
which half to warm by a timid fire.
The sun long gone and still
too early to hole up against the night
beneath a thin plastic sheet.
Past my breath, past this poor excuse
for a bivouac, I see the Mazda–
remind myself it has a heater, gas in the tank.
I clamber in, turn the key, motor
into a dry wash, navigate
I fumble a cassette into the tape deck,
monks begin to chant the requiem mass.
I grope for the switch to the sunroof,
it opens to let in the darkness.
A ghostly mane billows
across the vault of the sky–
an unseen arm reaches down
to let loose a handful of stars
toward the fingers of a chance pilgrim
raised up into the void.
published in Quill and Parchment