Oddly warm rains bring us out. From our growing number far outliers enter dens bereft of our presence for untold generations. Coiled in darkness, we lick odors from the balmy air and, sensing an infrared glow, strike. We entwine in shade, our heat a sun gift.

Grey, bare yucca stocks accent the hills’ stark ribs. The level horizon shimmers blue, the air hot and still. Condors trace circles in the cloudless sky. On arid sand and pebbles a pronghorn skull rests, scoured white. Clear and sharp, the rattle sounds.

Before thinking, below knowing, the image, audible, visual, arrives, goes to work and, in belief, there’s a response, a reaction, a response. Abysses are for leaping into rather than over. Yet these leaps remain distinct in their contingent occasions.

Not for lack of sunshine, our range contracts, fragments. The ground holds strange vibrations. The rat increases. Boulders piled down the canyon’s sundown side a few generations ago offer dens. Stream water changes taste. More and more heat.

“This summer, on a canyon hike, my wife and I stopped still: a rattlesnake, crossing the trail, almost as thick as the old water pipe it was crawling over. Biggest rattler we’ve seen. To scoot by the spot where it vanished, we hugged the other side of the path.”

Poetry: © Robert Savino Oventile 2023
Photography: © Susan Hopkins

Scroll to Top