Canyonlands Journal
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Birds sing us awake. We slurp strong tea, munch toast smeared with peanut butter and jam, study the map and head out. Two hours later, we enter the steep sandstone walls of Lost Canyon. And someone calls out, “Look, up there, in that alcove!”

There’s a rectangular shadow indicating the doorway of a structure built by the early Puebloans 1000 years ago. Made to blend in with the canyon walls, its stone walls are held together by a cement-like mud that still shows indentations made by fingers pressing in the mud.

We climb further up onto the canyon rim where more ruins are likely to be hidden. Near the top, someone says: “Look, over there!” We've come across three ruins with firewood laid out as if prepared for tonight’s fire, as if we've just returned from the hunt. Scattered about are pottery shards and small corncobs.

Thirsty, coated with dried sweat and dust, we start the return to camp. Someone says: “Did you hear that Martin died of lung cancer?”

Does he mean Martin who hiked with us years ago? I search my memory: Did he smoke? Was there a wife? Children? Was he retired? And bits and pieces of the man emerge as if from shadowed doorway – the shards and corncobs of a life.

campfire talk –
light flickers on
the old junipers

Revision of a haibun published in Simply Haiku 2:5, 2004.





Image: Pinyon Pine Digging into Slickrock

pinyon pine, Cedar Mesa