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For Niema

One summer I lived outside of Flagstaff, Arizona in a trailer that was hidden from the road by an aspen thicket and the waving sheaths of unmowed, knee-deep grass. Down a bank on the right side of the trailer, a creek ran through brambles and leafy loam while on the left side loomed a mighty hill that made the mornings come late and kept the grass dewy past eleven. In the nights I studied Cassiopeia and Orion, but during the days I drifted from sleep to sleep recovering from the loss of my family. The succession of hours stapled like sheets upon the line, flapping and unable to move set position, stroked me.

One afternoon as I rested in a speckled shade beneath the white-barked trees, a beetle lit upon my hand and in a beam of sunlight the tiny bug’s golden stripes and emerald armor woke me up. The katydids in screeching chorus heralded a storm. The aspens turned golden.

That evening I announced to the Pleiades that in the morning I’d watch the sun come up on the other side of the hill. So with the persistence of a stubborn soldier, last man to drop, I raced darkness through the wet herbs to the top; I’d miscalculated the sun for it was already up. Hereford cattle were grazing on the secret slopes that stretched towards Zion, the Grand Canyon, and the Rockies. On the horizon bloomed the sweetest rose I’d ever smelled.


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