walking to Inspiration Rock
brought us to the hillside where
you would see the devastation
of the great fire
over 15 years had passed
but it was still shocking
mountainside of towering pines
now ashy grey lodge poles

enough mountaintop was forested to
welcome you back
deer grazed and wandered below
a wild turkey lives where you once
pondered UFOs

familiar rocks brought sense memories
monsoon storms rolling in
rich scent of sappy ponderosas
hailstones you gathered to put in gin and tonics
for their pungent ozone

after extended conversations
with ravens and a Steller’s jay
we descended—a last stop
where years ago youthful idiots pushed
your green ’53 GMC pick-up
off the cliff into Bear Canyon
and you, hiking back out,
saw it in flight before it crashed and rolled

from there we could see
pools and cascades of seven falls
sharing binoculars—tuning our eyes
searching the landscape
looking back
imagining forward
weaving stories about all the friends
who’ve left their bodies
ashy lodge poles, sacred bones
while we plan our next hike
delighted to find ourselves
with time left on the meter
for one or two or a dozen
or more days by those
distant pools

-Lisa Periale Martin

Lisa Periale Martin is a poet, writer, librarian, mariachi aficionado, and former migrant farmworker. Her writing is steeped in the essence and wonder of the Sonoran Southwest.