Petroglyph Dreaming

Canyonlands National Park
37°59’18.6″N 109°31’04.4″W

In dreams I return to this land of stones and stars. When I was here last, I laid on the ground beneath miles of stars, my body spent after a day of begging for an escape from the heat. But darkness brought no comfort, no relief to my dirt-crusted skin. My body curled inward, and I became a stone. Somewhere beyond my reach, I heard rumors of water. Cottonwood leaves whispering though there was no wind.

Those who came to this place long before I marked the way through the mazes. With slender fingers pressed together, golden handprints burned on gray stone. Go east the handprints said. There is place where water flows. It’s not far. There is a place where a stone records the dreams and visions of generations. Images whorl in spirals and wheels. Stories are told in footprints and tracks. Antelope, bighorn sheep, and deer gathered here with raven. Beaver, rabbit, and turtle joined. Hunters came on horseback. Shamans saw monsters.

This is the job of a stone. To remember. To anchor fleeting spirits to this place. The stone presented itself as a canvas for storytellers, varnished with the black of the sky. It weathered wind, dust, and rain while we laid our traces across one another, one lifetime to the next. We returned to ourselves. Can you hear the melody of water flowing over distant stones? Press your hand to the rock and leave a red ochre print to be sealed with time.
How many others have turned to stone? Crusted over, but not dried out, waiting for seep springs to well up from within. Streams of rain fall from their hardened faces like tears. There are names for places like these. Weeping Rock. Profile Rock. Sleeping Giant. The desert is full of life—dormant—stone people waiting for rain.


Flash Fiction by Amie Adams

Amy is an emerging writer, and graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Seattle Pacific University. Her work has been published by Midwest Review, Cagibi, Pilgrimage, and Topology.