Craig Wisner

Desert Song.

Granite Mountains, Mojave National Preserve, Friday 2/15 thru Saturday 2/16/2013

One of the harder desert XC solos I’ve done.  Scrambling up and down canyons choked with boulders and brush, traversed a  ridgeline with a good deal of class 4.  A total of about 25 miles over 24 hours; home with bloodshot eyes, plenty of cuts, holes in my pants, and cactus spines lodged in my feet.

____________________________

Walking in the footsteps of ghosts-

ghost men,

ghost sheep,

the footsteps of those yet to come.

Generations of us- animals, people,

all flowing through the land

behaving like water

ever seeking the smoothest path

to wherever it is

we go.

Everything is hardened here-

scaled

crusted

thorned

Created to repel the impatient,

to protect hidden fragility from those

too hurried to look.

Beneath the land’s defenses:

the delicate trickle of a spring

into an ancient tinaja,

cactus fruit,

wind in the rushes

beside a blooming pool.

Watersong.

Birdsong.

-The Desert Song.

We may have cast off ancestral knowledge

of the land from which we come,

traded our animal skins, locust

and wild honey

for packs, shoes

salami, bread, and cheese

-but I cannot cast off the desire

to walk alone

into this timeless beauty, madness,

of rock and sand and sun.

Thirsty, rationing water,

turning a swollen tongue

in thought-

Admit it, you’re lost.

Is this what you come here for?

Exposed, traversing knife ridges in the dark,

scrambling downward towards the protection

of a Juniper tree.

Making a bed like an animal,

scraping at the soil

scooping a depression for my hip

in the duff at its base.

On my back now, staring skyward,

the Juniper’s limbs spread out

like giant hands, cupped and  shielding me

through the night.

There were lucid dreams,

waking and watching the branches blow in the wind,

moonlight on boulders

faint clouds drifting across the sky behind them,

Slipping back into sleep, turning to my side

vaguely aware of the stars of the Dipper

hanging on the horizon before me.

This is what I come here for.

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