Last Gaze on Desert Outlook, Grand Canyon

By Phillip Bannowsky

Last Gaze on Desert Outlook, Grand Canyon

Two desert ravens over Grand Canyon mating.
Black feathers, clear mid-morning blue,
an immense illusion
in colored bands drops below. They race
above the tourists near the rim
and fly out. Buff plateaux miles beyond
are the tint of Joanie’s skin. She takes pictures
as I gaze down the shrinking juniper and pinion pine:
a green rash upon the distant outcroppings. I gasp
at the height, the space, the falling
of ravens into it. Attacked,
one folds and tumbles sideways
towards the hidden
Colorado.
Endless seconds. The shiny wings unwrap,
catch the dry air and up, up, counterattack.
Farther and farther out they
spiral and dash
until lost in the whorls of heat or perhaps
my sun-dazzled eyes. I squint north.

The river
leaks from a hazy V and disappears.

Wiping the moisture from my lashes,
I turn to Joanie, a back-lit shadow in the glare,
and take her hand to leave, heading east.
At sunset the Painted Desert, tomorrow
the Pueblo ruins, and then the Plains . . .

When I sit again beneath the shade
of beech and poplar on White Clay Creek,
“How will I remember this?”

Phillip Bannowsky is a retired autoworker, international educator, and 2017 Delaware Division of the Arts Established Artist Fellow in poetry. His published works include The Milk of Human Kindness (poetry), Autoplant: a Poetic Monologue, and The Mother Earth Inn (novel). He has just completed a novel in verse vignettes, Jacobo the Turko. Currently, he teaches English Composition at the University of Delaware. This poem appeared in issue nine of Dreamstreets,  August 1989.

Photo courtesy of the author.