Poetry by Christopher Cokinos
Photography by Stephen Trimble
Stone That Leaps
A Utah Sequence
Preternatural strands, the gesture of reaching. Held as earth, just so.
The raven’s gurgle
is a cat with wings, purring quick to canyon echo.
Cold, full moonrise framed
by Partition Arch. Portals to fins, mesas, dusk–
Bushtits. Then thumper
trucks? Thus an arch: silent. Erosion’s revenge.
I am 43.
Birthday moon, cold wine, firelight. Stupid smile! Years of this!
Ravens tumbled as
I set up the tent, missing you, the moon a blue juniper berry.
like crinoid columns of a former sea.
And sandstone’s slow cascade:
This place. Lifted, cracked and stilled.
Wind-drift sand, sunlit:
How to make eons, stone that leaps.
To thought’s last thought:
Balanced Rock: Wisdom’s cairn.
Stone That Leaps: A Utah Sequence
Photos by Stephen Trimble
Click any image to view slideshow with captions:
Raven—poised to gurgle, to tumble, to fly away joyously.
Yet another cairn capturing the design wisdom of boulder, juniper, cliff, and sky. Meeks Mesa, Waterpocket Fold.
Arches National Park entrance. Want to stay longer? Come on foot.
Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
How to make stone that leaps. Fremont Indian petroglyph. Nine Mile Canyon.
San Juan County, Utah
A gesture of reaching. Six-year-old girl, San Juan River side canyon.
Fins, mesas, dusk, just so. Dirty Devil River wilderness.
Torrey Black Ridge
Black Ridge, near Bicknell. I wait for the decisive moment. My family abandons me, scurries ahead, worried about lightning. I grin.
Sulphur Creek Tracks
Tracks in mud, Sulphur Creek, Capitol Reef.
Plants array themselves on canyon rims, with care, like poems. Juniper snag below the Henry Mountains.
Cloud, Devil’s Garden, Arches National Park. Fins, mesas, portals to the next adventure.
Chris Cokinos marked his 43rd birthday with a full moon. I’ve tried for the perfect moonrise photo for exactly 43 years, and this is still my favorite. Moonrise over the Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef National Park.
Rainbow over Waterpocket Fold
I dreamed of this one, too, and finally—after years—landscape met sky met light at precisely my moment of arrival. Rainbow over the Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef National Park.
“Sandstone’s slow cascade: Lifted, cracked, and stilled.” Upper Escalante River.
Poets look for words. As a photographer, I look for color and motion. Reflections, side canyon stream, Thousand Lake Mountain.
Capitol Reef Rimfalls
Erosion’s revenge. Rimfalls tumble into the Fremont River after a summer thundershower.
is the author of
The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars
Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds
. His lyric essay collection,
Bodies, of the Holocene
, is forthcoming from Truman, and his poetry chapbook,
Held as Earth
, from which this poem is taken, is forthcoming from Finishing Line. He has poems recently in
Sugar House Review
Stephen Trimble has published more than 20 award-winning books as writer, photographer, and editor. He lives in Salt Lake City, where he teaches writing in the Honors College at the University of Utah, and in the redrock country of Torrey, Utah, where he wanders the back country with his camera. Stephen’s website is www.StephenTrimble.net.
Read Chris Cokinos’s essay
“Night at the World’s Largest Atomic Canon” in Issue 24 and Stephen Trimble’s photo essay “Devil’s Bargains” in Issue 23.