River Ride

A jagged craggy dry and quiet landscape
Deep of steeply terraced buttresses of stone
Layered up and stepping down
Chiseled into a most magnificent chasm.
The sculptural end product of all that time
Upon cycles of shifting water and life
Holds the river peacefully meandering away
Flat and binding to the will of this earth maze.
And then the river rises gloriously breaking upon itself
Thunderous and joyfully responding to the squeeze of a loving canyon.

The sun and my passing by eyes ride the river
And like a kaleidoscope juggle every cut shape and shadow.
Milky rust and bisque against steel blue and hazy purple.
Diamonds on the water, manganese in the sky.
The descending scale of the canyon wren,
The swooping of the swallow.
These are cues to a passion within.
My sense of beauty is inflamed,
I regain the steadiness of my soulfooting
When I feel this rapture of being alive.
A lizard tucked in the shade of a rock crevice laughs at me - knowingly.

Standing at the rim, I am suspended.
The nothingness, the air, that gigantic gentle peace
Captured there within the canyon.
What safety it affords.
It filters out all that I have become, all that I do.
I am free from my own history like a child.
Just before I leave I breathe it in.
It gravitates to my bones.
And when I return to the place from which I came,
I am different.
There is now a big open space in my spirit where I dare to dream.

Patti Auguste Hallowell


For two humpback chubs, stunned and
netted on another river, stuck with pins
and implanted with transistors
in the name of their own preservation

You ancient fishes
You streams of light
You slippery dreamers
We need you
even after we sent in catfish
dammed your floods
chilled your currents
stole your backwaters
poisoned you
Oh native children
hang on

You errant mysteries

Chubs with high arched backs
lifting toward a haze of golden light
like banners
billowing in a twilight sky

Suckers chimera gaping
in the thick stills
mailed sides veiled in silt
scarcely glimmering

Colorado squawfish
fabled giants who hurl like lances
up the dark currents
to tangle genes
so fingerlings can drift down
glittering from backwater to backwater
and end up home
in ancestral fiefdom

You who revel in spring’s torrents
and August’s warm slackenings
plunge into cataracts
still yourselves in floods
You who can breathe mud
into silver

You who know
what it is to be filled with grace

You must hang on

How else can we know the night
will shelter our dreams forever

Ann Weiler Walka