The Poetry of Mary K O'Melveny


This July day flares hot—

a summer tongue lashing.

We have crossed mountains of 

slick rock, torrid trailheads.

Delicate Arch awaits us.

Shadows of cinnamon,

garnet, carnelian, gold

surround us like stealthy

chaperones who stare straight

at the sun rather than leave us.  


As we search for surprise

in a place where wildness

and imagination

walk as one, each new turn

startles, each slap of sun

sizzles.  Each footfall on

ancient stones sears like an 

x-ray photograph, as if

we might look into earth’s

beating heart as we move on.


It is far too late to shift

course.  At a next turn, we 

meet stragglers heading down.

They are missionaries for

our continued heavenward

journey.  Faces tell all –

there are earthly pleasures 

to be found ahead if

flesh is willing.  Their news

is welcome.  We move on.


Finally, prayers win

out.  We arrive to find 

nature’s erogenous

zones arrayed like Ingre’s

Odalisque.  Flares of sunset

begin to trace each curve. 

A dancer in equipoise, 

caught in an act of faith,

just before she might leap 

into some fiery unknown.



(Arches National Park, Utah)


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