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Winter 1993, Volume 10.1


Jan C. Minich

Jan C. Minich (Ph.D., U of Utah) teaches literature, writing, and wilderness studies at the College of Eastern Utah. He has published a chapbook, History of a Drowning (Owlcreek Press, 1990). His poems have appeared in Northwest Review, Seattle Review, Montana Review, Columbia, Kansas Quarterly, and others.


Peavine Canyon

I come out of it alone,
these five days in Woodenshoe
and Peavine, stopping
along the way to find rocks
above the trail to look again
at what I'm leaving behind,
that feeling of going on endlessly,
another dusk another dawn . . .
and then I remember my son
is playing his first T-ball game
this evening, my wife's
sitting in the back looking out
over the pasture
to the Bookcliffs uncovered
and accessible in the moonlight.
I come out of it alone,
what isn't meant to be shared
in another way, just that easy,
shadows the moon couldn't push away,
and find a small kiva, the society
of cliff-builders recounting their dead
from a twenty-year drought;
I stayed one lifetime too many
near the spring at the canyon's end,
that pool of clear green water
under the hanging gardens
like mistakes I keep covering up
emerging from the water's bank,
mayfly larvae entering the air
that brings them closer to their deaths.
He was taken too suddenly from her
at birth, and now prefers
the white light of the desert sky,
darker evenings
that leave for him as for me
the romantic unrealized,
unable to accept these advances of age
winded early, metallic green.

Somewhere within Reach

—for Sarah

The chest at the foot of your bed
turns dark and you believe
they must have taken you home.
Miles of level prairie before you stopped
to water the horses along the Platte
and awakened days later
in the shadows of this deep canyon.
The log walls remind you
of another cabin,
a girl not yet fifteen
you're standing under a broken trellis
fitting small stones
into an opening in your dress's hem.
You liked this never having to feel
what is living and what is not.
So you spend your days now
swimming in the cattle pond,
your nights, bathing in the copper tub.
It's the water you could never leave,
what makes living here so easy.


Sarah, you haven't fallen down
the stairs for a week.
The ash men have fed your daughter
and carried her home from school,
and she sits by the furnace
waiting for you to come down
to wash her feet, to tell her again
about her father who died
before she was born, lying
about his kindness as she undresses,
mud from the pond still on her legs
from that morning wading for tadpoles,
those darker places under logs
suspended over the surface of ponds.
You haven't been able to look at her
without crying. Because you have
nothing more to say, you say nothing
and spend your time outdoors
walking the fenceline, forcing
the stars back into your own childhood
where the trees narrowed
the sky and water hung in the air
like a shallow western river
over a bottom of chert
native trout travel in the spring thaw.
The world was closer then,
green ponds across a wooden foot-bridge,
and you knew each bank,
the dead trees fallen in
where painted-turtles sunned themselves
and leopard frogs hid in the algae
waiting for flies, where at dusk
you followed bullfrogs all one summer
in a full circle of ponds,
their journeys to each familiar light
through shadow the woods cast down.