Bryce Canyon: Three Views

J. C. Elkin
T.C. Bailey, surveyor, saw in 1876
one of the wonders of the world
                                Today’s tourist sees that and more
                                in its whimsical, eerie hoodoos
sentinels on ruins of castles
                                pink citadels for sea horses
churches with guarded walls,
battlements, spires, steeples
                                Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian marching to fictive battle
monks and priests in their robes,
attendants, cathedrals, congregations
                                Great Stone Buddhas of Bamiyan, safe from the Taliban
the wildest, most wonderful scene
the eye of man ever beheld
                                cinnamon ribbon-candy curls, wine bottles dripped in wax,
                                rows of serrated sharks’ teeth, the bloody maws of the earth
                                more Martian than terrestrial

                     Ebenezer Bryce, Mormon pioneer,
                                                                saw in 1878, as he rode into Lucifer’s realm,
                                                                A hell of a place to lose a cow!

                                                                Did the angel Moroni stand vigil
                                                                over the prodigal as she lowed,
                                                                eyes rolling, udder sweating
                                                                curds of red-rind hoop cheese,
                                                                red as the desert dust?

                                                                  Bryce moved soon thereafter,
                                                                his temporal footprints erased
                                                                in the whittling desert wind.

J. C. Elkin is an optimist, linguist, and singer with a mammoth memory for minutiae. Her collection World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom (Apprentice House 2014) is based on her experiences teaching English to adult immigrants. Other poetry and prose drawing on spirituality, feminism, travel, and childhood appear domestically and abroad in such journals as The Delmarva Review, Kestrel, Kansas City Voices, and Angle.

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