Sep. 14, 2018— A new piece of mine is out at Orion called Deep In Time, a piece I wrote while roaming the Guadalupe Mountains National Park for a month as artist-in-residence, a piece in which I explore one of the world’s largest preserved fossil reefs from the Permian Era, within the larger geographical-historical context of the oil-rich Permian Basin that houses it, while thinking about time & extinction. The reef formation is a large necklace on the land. It remains in its various calcified & cavernized & fossilized forms in West Texas, what was once the West Coast of Pangaea. (Carlsbad Caverns, which you may have heard of, is a sunken part of the reef, while the Guadalupe Mountains are an uplifted part of it, since the Cenozoic.) The big circle of reef is an old ghost now on the land, inside it, remnant of the inland Delaware Sea, Panthalassic Ocean. I traveled its haunts circularly, pondering it, from the caverns & around the Guadalupes. … I think the subtitle of the piece should’ve rather been Walking in Circles in the Age of Fossil Fuels, for many other reasons that you’ll find in the story.
And there was that time not therein recounted when while walking deep into my favorite canyon, miles deep, miles away from the too-fast desert highway, a sky-thundering, lightning-cracking storm rolled in, & I crawled into a small cave recessed from the wall of the canyon & watched the heavens unleash from above in sheets and thicknesses of rain, until I began to hear the canyon trickling & flowing with streams—the most miraculous thing! Ensconced within the walls of the canyon, I felt I had witnessed an intimate, secret canyon-happening; I was wholly wild, wild and holy. And afterward (hours had passed), tramping happily out of that womb of rock, out & down the canyon, hopping & leaping over all the new streams & littlebitty rivulets that had formed while I was rock-ensconced—ah, monsoon season in that country, how I absolutely dig it, how refreshing; I lived in the contiguous monsoon-season region of Southern New Mexico, or SNM (“how it comes off the tongue like S&M,” as Joshua Wheeler writes in Acid West. “Our half of the state is robbed or abused or forgotten entirely. … And we like it.”), lived there some years ago, and was remembering, with newness, old-soulness, old eyes and skin & a worn-down heart, ah, how I loved that country… the earth-transforming, canyon-crumbling monsoons & all the new streams sprung into being before my eyes now rolling under my feet through the rock-maze of the canyon, an earth in visible geological process, I was happily thinking, smell of rain and all the jumble of dry stones now wet… ah, happy—and then I saw the very nice man who was one of the Park’s seasonal fire- and EMT-crew coming up the canyon. Very frazzled-looking, worried as hell, his cinched mouth and searching eyes. He saw me, stopped, and nearly crumpled with relief. Ooops, I realized I had turned my Park-issued radio off when the storm came, impulsively, for no good reason but maybe to be alone with all the thunderous world, with no possible distraction of radio murmur or beep, no other emissions of sound but the sky itself crackling, and I had forgotten to turn it back on. They couldn’t get a signal on me. I had checked in at the start of my hike up-canyon that morning, and now it was toward evening and all the canyons were trickling or gushing with the stormsurges; they’d been wringing their hands over that artist-in-residence woman alone out there, and no signal for hours, & where was she? “Always keep your radio on after you check out on a hike,” he told me when we got within talking distance, softly-sternly, the way I have told my hound dog to always come home when I call for him, when he has returned after too-long missing and I attempt to maintain a posture of anger at him but really am just glad to see him, his body intact. We walked out of the canyon together that evening, smell of lightning-awakened stones in our heads & the sky darkbluing.
I remain grateful for the wild opportunity. I remain hungry for like ones.
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