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Echo Canyon

Echo Canyon

by Mary Lambert
Bas-relief: sculptural relief in which the projection from the surrounding
surface is slight and no part of the modeled form is undercut.

The desert glows back at its sun-drenched, blue sky.
Broken by large shale cliffs and flat-topped mesas,
burnt orange shapes rise and twist into towers, ships,
and castle-like structures. Eons have had their way.

Multiple caves stare out from the mesas'
inverted sides, the surface lips turned down,

Flat sand and gravel silently contain them,
letting them speak. Their words of form
hold the gaze indefinitely.

A natural amphitheater invites; its dark
interior beckons with earthy, cool breath.
Tourists pay at the booth and walk the hot
desert into its dusky yawn.

But the rock mass on the right waits.
The chiseled structure invades the corner
of the eye with secondary importance.
Its minarets and corkscrew towers stand and turn,
shadowed by negative space.

This is a test--some see it only as a
distraction to the amphitheater and go on.
But others...others see something within
its recesses and projections that is a
memorial and a testament to those who
came before.

Those who loved this land intimately and
knew it as Mother and marked their days
by the four directions of Her circle.
Their skin a deeper shade of orange
and their legacy to her bounty speak

The elements have not forgotten!
Her language carried them to this ancient
rock. Their dance upon her shaped this
intimate, complicated art.

One looks, looks away and then...is drawn back.
Eyes roam, caressing her surfaces, searching.
Searching for ... Something.

Then, stepping out of the rock, the warrior
shows his position--legs strong, outstretched.
He faces East with bow raised, poised to send
the arrow to its home.

Carved out of his side is the mother--rounded,
open to the circle's ancient language, holding
her infant. At her feet, a curled dog.

Behind them, a Chief, as though guiding their
attention toward the place of power: that to
which they have gone; that from which they

Others stand behind, not yet alive, still attached
to the mother's ribbed, earthy womb.

This arid, orange desert loves the people
of the Mother. The brave spirits who
honored her sacred heart and spoke
her language!

In thrall to a rising sun, they listen for her signal
heartbeat, the drum that guides their dance of

This is the sacred message of this shining, still land.
This is the history of the place where the Mother's
heart ruled and spoke.

Now, her progeny gaze Eastward, in thrall to
her radiance. They await Her signal to dance
their prayer to the beat of her loving heart, lost
in the reverie of her feminine soul.

The bronze sheen on the horizon reaches
out to them, pulling them East, slowly.
The Mother is birthing a new cycle.
Again they will live and have their being
with her heart's song.

Again, they will embrace her and breathe
to her their constant devotion.

They understand the exquisiteness of her circle.
This is their gift for their unbroken pact
so many years ago.

This is their song.

Selection 14 of

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Copyright © 2005 by Mary Lambert. All rights reserved.