far below, from the overlook by Robin C. Coppock

Averie Woodward Photography

Averie Woodward Photography

Red silt and sediment.

The gathered rust of tapered centuries

where weakly crumbled canyon clay

had turned to mud when there was water there

then dried to dust

along which treads

a faceless charcoal pencil-sketch wanderer,

erased at the edges,

indistinguishably gray.

His travels have kicked up

and crusted onto him;

the bottom layer of the valley

and the man

are blended inextricably.

The distant hazy view imagines

a moment of pause.

A glance to the sun,

whose highest heat is visible today.

Whose rippled sweat is dripping up

from out of dry clay earth.

The sun who sees what he cannot:

the path moves only onward,

never up.

You yell for him.

But he, too far to hear the echoes,

searches out the sky.

A numinous expansive blue,

divinity infused,

that finds its way inside his chest

and takes up space—

pressures the heart, splits ribs apart,

petrifies his breath.

And almost inadvertently he sees

your peering face

as indistinct to him as he is gray.

And so he knows there’s someone at the top.

And so he knows he cannot stop.

Onward down eternal winding miles.

Robin C. Coppock