Strata

Names like prayers –
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler

red rock layers,
one word each,
ten million years
or more.  We stand
on Dead Horse Point
where (legend has it) herds
of wild mustangs were corralled
and left to die
after the strong ones were selected.
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler

low raven wing-drums
the last cool gusts of springtime
and two thousand feet below,
the green Colorado still invents
these pyramids and steeples,
sandstone towers
and so many walls,
Kayenta, Wingate,
Chinle, Moenkopi, Cutler
– we want
to remember the names,
so we say them again, feel
them in our mouths like the red sand
between our teeth.  Beside you,
I am learning about layers –
ten million years  to form,
but to peel away –
the time it takes
to hear my own name
spoken
like a prayer.

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