Yea Though I Drive Through the Shadow…


Yea Though I Drive Through the Shadow…

A brother and I
	traveling somewhere
		through the Valley of Death.

Salt pans and borax,
	brittle Hollyleaf Saltbush
		little sustenance for 20 mule team trains.

My traveling companion,
	from the lush summers of the Midwest,
		says it’s frightfully barren.

What’d he expect when passing this way,
	still I fear no evil
		from flash floods and scorching sun.

Yet here in the afterlife
	jackrabbits dart, ravens caw,
		a tarantula clings to a door frame.

Who would have thought
	Death would be so sublime,
		really just the other side of a coin.

Coins made of gold and silver,
	zinc, copper, talc and borax
		scrabbled and cored out of these badlands.

The 49ers who stumbled into this valley
	must have figured to mint something
		to pay Charon, the ferryman.

Hades though, all dark and shadow,
	was not like these
		clear skies and blazing light.

This Death more like
	the brilliant white expanse
		of the Void, past the borders of Time.

Maiden Death reclines
	on the basins and ranges of life
		spreading her bajadas and alluvial fans.

She lets the wind, water, cold and heat
	nibble and caress her down,
		a tantra of erosion, the colour of every mineral.

We wandered out onto some dunes
	above the mesquite and saw a rainstorm
		swirling around Tucki Mountain.

Not quite ready to let the rain
	wash our ashes and residue away,
		we headed back to the car.

Tomorrow, maybe we’d go south
	and try at Furnace Creek
		to incinerate more of our lives.

Soon we will leave this valley
	and I am softly saddened to know
		that death is only temporary.

It’s not the blissful, eternal sleep of nirvana
	but what we leave behind a high elevation pass
		into valleys and basins further west of here.

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