The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


Sunrise, Grand Canyon
By John Barton


We stand on the edge, the fall
into depth, the ascent

of light revelatory, the canyon walls moving
up out of

shadow, lit
colours of the layers cutting

down through darkness, sunrise as it
passes a

precipitate of the river, its burnt tangerine
flare brief, jagged

bleeding above the far rim for a split
second I have imagined

you here with me, watching day's onslaught
standing in your bones--they seem

implied in the record almost
by chance--fossil remains held

in abundance in the walls, exposed
by freeze and thaw, beautiful like a theory

stating who we are
is carried forward by the X

chromosome down the matrilineal line
recessive and riverine, you like

me aberrant and bittersweet, and losing
your hair just when we have begun

to know the limits of beauty, you so
distant from me now but at ease

in a chair in your kitchen, pensive, mind
wandering away from yesterday's Times, the ink

rubbing off on your hands, dermatoglyphic
and telltale, but unread

on the chair arms after you
had pushed yourself to your feet such

awhile ago, I'd say, for here I am
three hours behind you, riding the high

Colorado Plateau as the opposing
continental plates force it over

a mile upward without buckling, smooth
tensed, muscular fundament, your bones yet

to be wrapped around mine--
this will come later, when I return

to your place and time, I know it, you not
ready for past or future, our combined

bones so inconsequent yet
personal, the geo

logic cross
section of the canyon dropping

from where I stand, hundreds
millions of shades of terra cotta, of copper

manganese and rust, the many varieties of stone--
silt, sand, and slate, even "green

river rock," a rough misidentified
fragment of it once unknowingly

dropped when I was a boy into my as of yet un
settled sediments by a man who tried

to explain how slowly the Earth meta
morphosed from my meagre

Wolf Cub's collection of rocks, his sheer
casual physicality enough to negate

all received wisdom, my body voicing its immense
genetic imperatives, human

geology falling away
into a

depth I am still unprepared for
the canyon cutting down to

the great unconformity, a layer
so named by the lack

of any fossil evidence to hypothesize
about and date such

a remote time by, at last no possible
retrospective certainties, what a

relief, your face illegible
these words when I began not what I had

intended to say--something new about
the natural dynamic between

earth and history, beauty and art--
but you are my subject, unavoidable

and volatile, the canyon
floor a mile from where I objectively

stand taking photos I will later develop of
the ripe, trans

formative light on these surreal
buttes to show you on the surface

how beautiful and diverse
and unimportant our time together

or with anyone else
really is--




Seemed to call for a photo, though what matters in this poem is the unseen and unseeable, or perhaps more to the point, the unspeakable ("your face illegible/these words when I began not what I had/intended to say").

Fucking court-packing fucktard. That's all I have to say about politics this morning. Oh, and I would like to announce that this journal will be Passion of the Christ-free unless someone shows me an illegal bootleg of the film, because while I am curious enough to want to see it, so that I can form my own opinion, I am not curious enough to give my money to the people who financed the film.

Should go work a bit, as my husband has to be in the office till two today which sucks (and he graciously volunteered to take our younger son to his 8 a.m. basketball game beforehand -- what seven-year-old needs to play basketball at 8 a.m.?!) It's gorgeous out, though, and I am determined to see the river.
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