HOW WE ECHO
Amaris Feland Ketcham
Nothing happened, amen. The steel guy cable gives way. Sunsquint, sunburn, a blister. A foot slips on slickrock. Stone scrapes knee. Over time our toes make another foothold. Mother, for centuries we’ve been climbing up.
Everything bakes on the red sandstone. Midmorning sun makes the ruins look engulfed in flames. Even the shade is red.
Destination: petroglyphs. Desert varnish—oxidized iron and manganese—rusts the cliff face. Here the Ancients (the Archaic, the Anasazi, the Fremont, Ute, Puebloans, Navajo, Hispanics, Anglos) scraped varnish off to tell their stories. The bear was huge. Many men shot arrows. Pronghorn migrated here. Elk magic, turtle magic, bear magic. Wheel of time. Sometimes the late period ancients had horses, swords, Spanish surnames. Sometimes they wuz here. One loved Jenny.
Erosion, how wind and water rearrange the world. We speak less about how the sun creates, destroys, rebirths. All old headlines and old magic fade here. New varnish reddens the sandstone, erases. Their canvas stretches for miles and replenishes itself in centuries.
Sunset. Covered in red dust. Connect tent poles. Frame a place in the wild.
If everything in this red world is a medium, then what is the message? A, AB, B, O. Positive / Negative. I and thou, self and other.
I heard once that girls have to unbecome their mothers to become themselves. You poured yourself into me only to be destroyed.
Or something happened, but we’ve forgotten, so be it.
Canyon night repeats across ridges and county roads; I see ancient designs in the stars. Women always live in someone else’s history,
but Mother, how we
other, how we