At Santa Maria springs we take off our shoes, dangle feet in the water. Their whiteness shocks-- salt-pale below brown ankles-- the white of our age: concrete, sunlight-on-glass, impeccable museum walls. But here I wear color again: trail dust on bare legs, shoulders sun-reddened, I see how muted shades of rock climb perfectly, from the river's black line to the white sky-rim. * * * I stand naked among rocks, the river rising, white-maned. Only a pale slice of sky-- the river owns all blue: cornflower, December ice, glass-eye on bald-faced colt. The water is cold. I wash off eleven miles of Hermit Trail. I think that if I wanted I could wash clean through, Run clear as the river. It takes knees hips ribs shoulders--my hair floats, a yellow tan, thickens, sinks. Only my face, sunlifted, survives. The river claims blue of eyes. * * * The clear notes of coyotes rise like moons. We lie in the river-sand and catch stars. All day I watched night growing on canyon walls, spreading blue roots. It covers me now as it always has. In the dark, I forget where my skin ends; I feel a thousand others around me rustling like grass. A star falls and goes out. Perhaps some night another will watch our own earth, shot from its orbit, wearing hair of flames. * * * In the sharp light of the dawn we lie in sleep-worn hollows, each separate as stones. The stillness makes everything new-- leaves wave gold of first leaves; the sky is a curve of eggshell. In this light even my skin is transparent, thin as a baby's. I wake from ribs of earth afraid to shatter the morning with rising, each movement making rings in tender air. * * * When we begin the climb home, our bones feel immeasurably old. We have been walking the floors of oceans, sleeping with fossils. Halfway up the canyon wall, I pause, watching a red-shouldered hawk circle below. The sheer cliff tempts me to try my own wings. I know now why once we wore feathers, danced to the sun; why young girls smiled as priests lifted their red hearts.
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Warren Wedin email@example.com