Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 9

All month, we're writing poetic letters.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Queen Basin,

    When I think of nature of surpassing beauty,
    my image is your expansive glacial cirque,,
    deep blue lake with frogs and salamanders
    hiding below the surface, eyes peeping out
    from time to time when I don’t expect it,
    edges marked with pink Elephantella spikes
    each with its load of tiny elephants, trunks raised
    in triumph and joy that they are here, that you are here.

    You display the colors for which Colorado was named,
    Jagged granite peaks shaded with pink and red
    streaks down the gray thrusting shapes
    as if a child had poured tempera paints
    on the back wall of the valley
    here and there, enjoying the process with
    no planning or visualizing of the outcome.

    A tiny path winds between your huge boulders
    up behind the lake, weaving back and forth
    across the steep end wall to the sharp joint
    between up and down, the knife edge of the ridge
    leading to the highest peak nearby.

    The Casaleya blooming in bright red and orange and
    yellow paintbrushes of color in the grassy
    meadow below attract Coleus and Pieris butterflies
    whose white and gold wings look lazy until I try
    to catch the butterflies in nets. Then they prove
    to be speed demons and masters of dodging. You nurture
    hundreds of organisms, none of them
    philosophizing or meditating, all going about the
    business of life: eating, growing, reproducing, dying.

    The path up the mountain past Copper Creek
    is steep and hard, just wide enough for one foot
    at a time, some places passing cabin ruins with
    decaying tin cans displaying tobacco and tuna
    symbols in fading colors on their sides.
    Then the path deteriorates into barely visible
    disturbance of long scree slopes with
    sliding rock fragments waiting to become
    rock avalanches if I take an unwary step.
    I have to walk across the scree with one eye closed
    or vertigo takes over and I yearn to slide down
    to the bottom of the mountain rather than to
    take another precarious step on this unsteady path.
    I think of this area as your defense against
    casual visitors. No one comes here unless
    they have a burning desire to follow the path
    to the end and arrive at Queen Basin,
    no matter what obstacles stand guard.
    Each time I hike up here, there’s a moment
    when I decide, “No, it’s not worth it. Just imagine
    the beauty, you don’t need to sit there
    and be in the picture yourself. But I don’t stop.
    I face down the temptation and go on.

    Each time I walk up this path, I carry the knowledge that
    AMAX owns you, this land and the basin
    and plans a mine here, a mine to destroy
    everything I love about your quiet beauty.
    To them, it means molybdenum and money.
    When I arrive, taking the last turn right
    through a few small firs into the flatter meadow
    I sigh with relief: You are not destroyed yet.
    Still here. Yes, still here.