Notes on the Grand Canyon

Dee Dee Chapman



At my earliest, you are

two pillars: knee & shin.

With fat fingers I slipped

down the sweep of your denim creases,

my toes found footholds

around your shoelaces.

Your metamorphic body

warm with the dust & bricks

 you pasted into walls. I scaled

you like any vertical surface:

never reached the summit. 



The only time I had you to myself, you

were watering the strawberry garden

behind your trailer. Inside it

the rest of the children 

rinsed off the desert-rust. 

The sun bled oranges around us.

You explained your magic:

how one hose could foster

so many channels. That they would all grow

through this irrigation



I studied the creases of your forehead. 

Mapped you out in those afternoons

when I still lived in Utah, 

traced cliffs on your canine teeth,

tried to make the muscles twitch

around your unchecked eyelashes,

those old growth forests

I was always trying to protect.



Are all children topographical?

All their parents plateaus?  

I thought I was an echo of you,

a wider outline of a parallel lip.

I have your pinky toes, stubby 

& cropped by an ignorant nail.

So were my stunted hands also 

dug up from your earth? 



On your edges I estimate

how hard I'd have to kick to scale your chasm. 

Worry about my legs cracking upon impact,

about how to remain then, 

how to crawl towards that stream 

I'd heard so much about:  a streak of azure 

running through your gap of slack,

your mumbling mouth. 



Without the desert, you wouldn't exist. 

I test the gulf with my voice

prove only echoes & whistled wind, 

only dirt for a daughter's dry tongue. 

One day, I will be excavated. Found 

fossilized within your canyon they examine

the shape of my fractured fibula, 

lay these bones next to yours and think 

they know.  They'll say 

we're family.



Dee Dee Chapman studies Creative Writing at Western Washington University. She has been published in From Bellingham With Love, Yellow Chair Review and Jeopardy Magazine. In September 2014 she published her first chapbook, Colluvium. Bellingham has been her home for seven years, the longest she's stayed in one place. She is a cinephile and her favorite animal is the prehistoric Megalodon shark.

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