Absent Moon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The sights, sounds, feel, impressions of the Grand Canyon, collected during a 13-day raft trip down the Colorado River.

Submitted: November 11, 2011

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Submitted: November 11, 2011




After midnight, the Colorado River glides through the Grand Canyon, partly in starlight and partly in the shadows of the cliffs. The sand is still warm to my feet from the day of sun, but as I edge down near the frigid river, the air is heavy, cool, and damp up to my knees.

A water-smoothed log to rest on… Coolness ascends to my hips. Razor-sharp stars perforate the blue-black sky, revealing rocks and crevices on remote, ghostly heights.

Quietness... and the occasional splash of the river, too absorbed in work for pleasantries...

It is slow and patient work, done in both vast dimension and painstaking detail. Here, far beneath the towering and distant plateaus, at the bottom of this world apart, the desert is pierced, shaped, and given life by water. Into the red-brown river from side canyons pour translucent, boiling, green emeralds of water.

Always, there is the unobserved etching of sandstone, the sculpting of marble, and the leisurely design of vistas yet to be. By day, the abrading currents, the echoing Canyon Wrens, and the attentive sun abet creation. The project is advanced indifferently by sun and rain, by wind and calm, under the moon and at the silent dawn.

Neither elections, Monday mornings, the establishment of empires, nor the price of bread matter here. No days of rest, no festivals mark the year. No proclamations as new constructions are tried out, nor ceremonies as masterworks are set in place. The plan unfolds hour by hour—but the changes of a lifetime escape notice.

A few millennia will give us a new bend for the river, a finer cut to a mesa, a proper grotto for the play of light and dark reflections from the water’s surface. The pieces are assembled as civilizations rise, and installed with their passing.

This cathedral of rainbow-stone, this ancient yet always new engine of creation, this canvas beyond all human scale, commands us to be mute and still.

We listen—and consider it all.

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