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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Marilyn Ashbaugh

Desert Dawn

What great luck, I think, I can walk the unmarked trail with J who knows the way. She leads, and with a hiking pole in each hand, she quickly is far ahead of me. I focus intently on the path, a jumble of boulders. I wish I had hiking poles but am grateful for my walking stick that steadies my steps down the steep descent. J says, “We cross the wash here and head for the island. Now, remember this bush for that will show you where you pick up the trail.” I want to know the name of the bush but I don’t ask, for J quickly disappears in a thicket of cholla. The footing is more stable here but cholla cacti are so notorious for injury they are referred to as jumping cholla. Their inch-long barbs can puncture the thick sole of a hiking boot and they are not easily brushed off. I am so intent on avoiding the cholla I pay no attention to my other surroundings. Once again, J waits and then announces she is going on alone and that I can return on my own. I want to ask questions, but she disappears.

coyote calls
shadow the canyon
desert dawn