Treading beside a monolith of sandstone over a thousand feet high and miles long. Many times I stop along this barrier and feel the power bleeding off it. So much blood coursing through the stone.
The creatures that take refuge here—sand fills the wall’s smallest dimple, where a sacred datura harbors the dreams by which demons reach us; lichen clings to the stone; whole pine jut precarious from the sides, overhang just a few feet above ground. The slot, nighthaven for night things. I kiss the hard, sandy rock with soft lips.
I descend into a rain corridor, narrows in everlasting shade but for a few degrees of day. The rock walls tower on either side. Moist, cool, reverberating. The rock’s power explodes out toward me, trapped in the narrows. Mighty, rivuleted formations, the walls separated by feet, the foundations of the world. In these faces of stone, I see told the story of two million centuries, of immense dunes inundated by oceans, whipsawed six directions on the rock’s face. Shell creatures spinning like pearl beads of sand into stone.
I see the rock rebellion against the sea, vaulting upward to drain it away. and yet the Virgin, she remained, to wear this chasm. Black, chipped, eroded stone embedded in the wall, like cratons folded into the mantle of earth. The geological history of marriage and rifting from Ur to Pangaea to now.
I peered up. This the great pedestal of the world, with toes like claws planted in the red till shaved by the river from itself. The walls grimaced into twisted smiles, disfigured by the epochs. And i am surrounded by this, wrapped within worlds within worlds. i, so tiny, felt the skin of continents, and kissed it one more time. Cocooned in a passage that served as the birth canal for the oceanic male, midwifed by a Virgin River who reacquires her purity in each new monsoon.
The sheer cliffs swallowed all horizon, walled off all sky, painted in tortured drops of iron tears. Twigs, mighty firs in their own right, stuck out like hairs from the scalp of its head. i flowed down this gorge, disgorged in my birth, ejected by the Virgin, the river that flowed from thought to flesh, from undream to dream. i pondered the waves of sand, paralyzed in perpendicular lives long since lived. Everything in the wall fractured and crazy up close, yet unrivalled, ferrous power seen on its true scale. And when tiny i grazed these unbreachable walls with fingers, i knew that, however insignificant i felt, had drifted across the eras within its crust.
The river, she sees the darkness of this canal and flows through. Humans, too, boulders carried on her flood, pass through. The shadows, the craziness written in these walls, the unendurable immensity, drives them on. Yet as the walls of this chasm are deformed, as the schyst at the foot of the Grand Canyon is tormented, so the very foundation of the world is tortured. And so too am i. For twistedness belongs to all people, worn off from the primordial world-stone by the Virgin. The Great Unconformity pulses through me, not my own to harness or ride, but belonging to the elder, larger paradox, to the rock, the cold cold rock of Zion.
© 2015 by Michael C. Just