The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton
— Inspired by a visit to the Royal Gorge and Cave of the Winds
Fragrances of descent caress each moment with subtle steel
as bitter-root coats mouth’s memory with frenetic ﬂailings;
I slip-slide into this valley vast with profundity.
Skeletal spires brim, chaos concise as catalyst;
each pinnacle, a deafening defeat by sky’s aspirations
to keep separate the horizon from its ineffable realm.
Maudlin foliage falls, askew,
skirmishes sacriﬁced to winds wild with mourning;
Winter’s furious approach is arbitrary in its wanderings.
Its caustic wisdom chastises the remaining remnants
and reminiscences of Summer, demanding surrender
as beauty unbraids her hair, locks ﬂowing as cumulus.
There is a brilliance upon the bluff, august in its demeanor;
a cavalcade of colorful rifts splits the mountain’s face
with ﬂowers too frail to endure ravages of Autumn’s ﬁrst frost;
yet, audacious in their casual assignations,
they ﬂout this treacherous trek with singular courage
and grace, emphatic with inertia.
A calamitous cadre of caverns are cached
within this circuitous civilization,
antediluvian with arrogance,
considering their residencies of mere shadows;
they remain pragmatic in their approach,
vicarious enclosures where lost stars may fall
into slumber, bereft of time.
I view these tattered photographs,
and recall this visit to the Royal Gorge
from childhood’s grasp of innocent reckonings
as I perceive these ﬁnal phases of my life;
they span enormity as does this bridge,
connecting what is apart from land.