Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bisti and Me

About 12 years ago, I visited the Bisti Badlands of New Mexico at a time in my life when I needed to feel alone. Imagine thousands of acres of desert with hundreds of washes and carved valleys dominated by pyramidal peaks, dried to orange and grays and bleached for millions of years under the sun's furnace. Life was bountiful there before and after the time of the dinosaurs. But as the land rose and the volcanoes blew, the old swamps and forests turned and burned until only their fossilized memories remained. I wrote extensively during the trip, and I thought to share a very small portion of my writing here in my post having recently pulled out some poems from that old folder.

If you are wondering why I needed to drive my S-10 3,000 miles round trip to Bisti to feel alone, well I am still trying to sort that out, in all seriousness. Let's just say that I plan to write about that trip when I am sure that I can handle the intense loneliness it conjures in my heart. Badlands don't cure; they just expose the truth.

God Did This
Did God reduce green into Bisti scapes? Allow our star a firmament to scrape? Chase souls into the shadow of boulders?Turn bone into stone, breath…into powder?

Skeletal Remains
Green, once the color of Life. Warmth, once the flow of blood. What was once wet, warm, and soft like the flesh of man, this is Bisti now: a desert of pyramids. I imagine Bisti once spoke words springing forth from its million fissures, from the space between its pillars of rock like parted lips, eager to wish and make good on promises whispered alongside the deeply carved pits –once ears – synapse sugary thoughts, now precipitated, and deposited as sand and salt, layered in orange and red clay and unfortunately forgotten, then petrified, then exposed by the Sun. No flesh remains here. Not here. Bisti. A marvelous death.

As I study with hands clamped behind, the remains of those once vivid truths wisp away in dust clouds as my eyes squint in the wind; watch them disappear into the negative sky. I ask myself – no one can hear, not even an echo will carry -- of such solid remains… Are we to be to be so petrified? Such indifference to all the life that came before…Will we be known to once have flesh, to once have breath? Is Bisti what will become of us? No. NO.

Chlorophyll Washes
Chlorophyll will conquer Bisti once again! The colors here are provided by the chemistry of minerals, minerals once the union of ancient life and the elements. Bisti is a memory, a fossil of that union. Fossils of ecosystems where Nature vastly ruled and orange where rich watery solvent pooled… Yes. Bisti is too bad at the moment, and clever, agreed. (Bisti is one Hoodoo up on green). This desert keeps its ground leached, its sandy washes salty, its heat and water scales on chaotic schedules, but ah! Within due time, Chlorophyll will fill these valleys as before, for she conquers everything --she being green-- and even Bisti, in a million forms, too. A million. She will conquer this desert and render it less bad, less Bisti, more plentiful, even welcoming. (I must believe). Besides, I am here. And frankly,

The Feds Must Know…
I had to go pee while hiking Bisti. I felt guilty, federally protected land and ancient native land and all. Prehistoric stones once long ago life, and vast canyons and washes under the Navajo-blue universe; the guilt was endless. I felt like God was watching me.

But, I really had to go, and badly!

So, I found a corner near a washout head, and I declared, openly to the sky and into those fossilized ears of Bisti: this is just a natural function. It is life. It is Nature at its best. (Or Nature at its very worst). What choice did I have? So I peed, and I hoped God and the Feds forgave me!

RS Wireman
RS Wireman
RS Wireman

No comments:

Post a Comment