M.E. Bredimus

We slap through the mud narrows at Buckskin,
wade cautiously through cesspools of drowned things,
now muck, wicked up pant legs to chafe butt crease.
We dine on cous cous, dehydrated corn,
near a squatting petroglyph laboring
three thousand years in a pointless childbirth.
This, the most dangerous place we have been.

Our water seeps from springs in maidenhair.
Slow boiled so not to ruin the fern taste
with iodine. I should have splurged on socks
seeing what sand can do to pruney skin.
Squandered the weight on Ed Abbey knowing
him by memory, yet wanting the heft
of words on this his brittle sandstone stair.

Nights coincide with the amateur’s find,
a comet in this narrow canyon’s sky
where resident stars diffuse in its dust.
How lucky to lie down in elements
born on icy tails from interstellar
clouds, even if the ground is cold and hard.
Reading by headlamp never comes to mind.

We end above the confluence, at Lee’s
Lonely Dell, discover Emma’s likeness
to orangutans, the same furry hands.
Bullied into eating the brown tuna,
Shelly Frasier succumbs to the stale oil.
The perpetrator eats Chinese in Page.
On the ride home, she shares in her disease.

Buckskin Gulch is a spectacular slot canyon popular with hikers. Water from the gulch flows into the Paria River.

Paria itself is a ghost town in Utah, abandoned since 1929. It was used as a set in many westerns, including The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood.

Lee's Lonely Dell is the ranch which belonged to the Mormon pioneer John D. Lee.

Poetry Atlas has many other poems about Arizona and poems about Utah.

Traces of Old Paria in Arizona