Friday, July 6, 2012

"As If the Sky and High Plateaus...," by Gary Young

I heard from my sister that the "Albright post-rock" that used to reside at my parents' home in Kansas has been relocated. My parents are now in Assisted Living, so there was no suitable place for it with them anymore. So my sister and her husband planted it on some land they have in New Mexico. It's nice to think of it there, at 7,321 feet,  marking another family outpost in the West.

The same day I heard about the post-rock this poem appeared on The Writer's Almanac. It seemed appropriate for the occasion.

Photos by Mary Nell Hoover

As if the sky and the high plateaus were not enough, here is a canyon
colored like a child's box of crayons. There are strata of purple,
scarlet, yellow, and beige. Small buttes that look like wedding cakes
rise up out of the gorge, each layer distinct and otherworldly. There
is a shade of green in the small hills surrounding these outcrops
I have not seen anywhere else: there are traces of sage, olive, turquoise,
the sea, but also sulfur, graphite, and blood. A huge portion of the
mountain has fallen away from the side of a cliff creating a natural
amphitheater. Echoes are amplified and return resonant and strong.
I sit and listen to the split-tailed swifts that nest in the cliff. They
whistle, and the echo makes them seem larger, and stronger, and
nearer than they really are.

"As if the sky and high plateaus..." by Gary Young, from Even So: New and Selected Poems. © White Pine Press, 2012.


  1. "I sit and listen to the split-tail swifts...the echo makes them seem larger, and stronger,and nearer..." What a great move replanting the family post. Strength. Enduring. The sun setting and rising.

    1. Yes. I was thinking of the symbols and events that make a family seem larger and stronger and nearer than they are. Thanks, Scott.