Poem: East Rim Junction


All we had was one vague map

on the lost trail which found a few.

There were more hikers at the start

as each scattered stranger received our

strange questions: Where is this going?

What does it mean? Why are we here

when there are better trails to be?

Their answers, our map, our will:

flickering torches on the lonely path

guiding us around the canyon rim

for seven meandering miles until we realized

there was no precipice, no destination

as our fear of purposelessness came true.

If there was a “goal” in my linear obsessing

it was to realize how lost I already was—

to toss my watch from the mesa and know

the futility of time and maps and advice.

Grief goes nowhere but down and around

an unfathomable void once filled.


My dust-stained glasses blurred my vision

yet still I heard every grosbeak’s song.

Well-meaning people let us down

yet still I waved to every lizard who said hello.

Everywhere else, tourists filed like ants

but we found the quietest place in the park,

at the junction of nothing and nowhere,

to rest and gaze out over the canyon—

that soul carved out by floods,

a chasm of its own chaos, beauty, thumbprint.

Somehow the quiet was enough that day—

it usually is, even when I am not.

To my right, in that silent place, I saw a rope—

a braver soul than I had propelled down

one hundred feet, at least, into Zion,

and at once I knew I was not yet ready.

One step after another around the canyon rim

was my best offering that day, most days.


This poem was first published on copelandwrites.com.

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