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One Poem for the Book Cliffs

It's during autumn in the desert that we enjoy the combination of velocity and well-ridden trails. It's also during autumn that we notice evidence of a verdant early spring, the time featured in this poem. The grasses and blooms alongside trails are now dry and brown, but as we make the most of the last warms weeks of fall, their spindly, rattling shapes remind us to begin looking forward to spring once the first snow falls.

Chutes and Ladders

It's over before you know it

pedaling up the clay

and layers of scrabble.

The green desert carpet

broke through the crust

after a week of rain

we won't see again for four months

and we're here:

out of all the eddies of schedule

and detritus of obligations

we're here and the same time,

the same sharp-cornered creek bed

tucked into layered

library-catalog foothills

away from the busy parking lot

I-15's rumble strips,

away from "Maximum Occupancy: 49,"

and the desolation

of a dustless Ikea shelf.

Rolling into the desert,

with its gullies 

and grass

for a warm second 

we find

the algebra and fire

of a line well chosen

soaking in the decline 

to wring it out on each rock

each turn a drop forever


until at last we drift

into the gravel

and I can never ride this trail again

for the first time. 

We don't look at our phones

back in the parking lot.

I try to say goodbye

without saying goodbye.

The 80's station plays in the next truck over

two men harmonize:

"It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you."

                                                                                        Megan Vorse

                                     Published in Camas Magazine, Summer 2022.