Will Barnes

Issue #
September 6, 2013


         Early the next morning, we find the point-bar dark
under the rim’s shadow—still cool. We take off our boots.
                                         The sand is smooth but for the striations

         of the river cutting into the bank, our own footprints in a line
behind us and three heron tracks—as if the night air had left only this—
                                         three fluted notes to its most private life.

         We watch the sun settle into the wall, toward the water
—the arm of the shadow, not precise,
                                         not definite as the precipice itself,

        but shrouded, as through an indecision, a lidded blessing.
Slipping now to more tangible skins, the insides—the inner walls—
                                         unveil by degrees their bare, bright-edged bodies.

                                                     We started down the canyon of Ladore

         dancing over the rapids at railroad speed
until a foaming cataract warned us to haul in.
Malvaceae: hibiscus:
                                                              Ascending to decumbent: Scarlet

        globemallow. Kaibab, Toroweap, Coconino. Stems from a
woody caudex, five-merous, petals of crêpe. Hermit shale, Supai—
                                                         the Redwall.

We shall rest here for eight or ten days, make repairs
and dry our provisions which have been wet so many times
                                they are almost in a spoiling condition.

             Corolla convolute, chaliced. Temple Butte, Muav.
Numerous adnate stamens cohere to form a sleeve enclosing the pistil
                                              eddying above the lip.

           I have personally enjoyed myself much,
the scenery being wild and grand beyond description.
                                     All in good health, all in good spirits,

         and all with high hopes. Bright Angel, Tapeats, the Great
Unconformity. Unilocular anthers, yellow. Stigmas red, excerted.
         One-armed into the Great Unknown.

               To see the sea.
           To speak the color swimming out of the rock.
As if the utterance itself—any one of us—

         The petals unfurl—instream—We let our boats down
by ropes a few hundred yards past the worst and after dinner
                                             launched out again into the current

             filaments ripening to the mouth. The Red Wall. Vishnu Schist.
To gaze into. To taste—this new language, this new land—
          only stopping to bail when breakers filled us too full to run;

rapids coming in quick succession.

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