Grand Canyon Pilgrimage

by Lisa Wersal

Grand Canyon"Where are you from?" they ask.

Before they tell us anything about the pottery we are admiring:
         sharp blade etching, clay essence,
         singed horsehair stain,
         Yucca leaf brushing;
Before they speak of honoring ancestors, of adhering to
          traditional methods;
Before they unlock the code of encrypted symbols:
          kiva steps, hallowed mountains,
          thunderbirds,
          beneficent lightning;
          They ask,

“Where are you from?"

"Minnesota," we say.  Land of sky-tinted waters, where rains
           are plentiful, the growing season long enough for  
           steady yields of corn, alfalfa;
           Black loam, nutrient-rich - our backyards sprout
           fragrant lilacs, crisp rhubarb,
           tart apples.

But here, the parched soil and massive rocks are blood red,
          the heart of the Earth exposed,
          its beat palpable.  

Pilgrims flock here in droves,
          to likewise have their hearts
          laid bare,
          to be reminded of who they are.  
We find them wherever we go, and we, too, feel compelled
          to ask,

"Where are you from?"

"Maryland."
"Las Vegas."  
“Idaho.”  
“Outskirts of Chicago.”
“Everywhere – a ‘military brat'.”

Some speak languages that give away their origins: French, Italian,
          Japanese, German, something that sounds Scandinavian,
          another, Slavic or Russian.  

A silent group of men with shaved heads and saffron robes look to be
          Tibetan Buddhist monks.  Women wound in bright saris,
          jangling with gold bracelets, chatter in Hindi.  Couples in
          distinctively drab Amish attire, smile and nod Pennsylvanian.

Here, we are all in agreement – Natives, immigrants,
          locals, transients –  all admiring the same
          vistas, straddling jagged crevasses,
          trudging arduous snaking
          trails, descending to
          concealed canyons,
          our feet blessed
          by the same
          crimson
          dust.  

           We
           test our
           limits of exertion
           and exhilaration, awestruck
           by senna, rust, magenta; The Earth
           crying out, summoning;  Innermost cores
           opening, melding, sacred renewal of primeval
           fiery bonds;  Mother Gaia needn’t ask – She knows

Where we’re from.

Lisa Wersal

A former university instructor, Lisa Wersal is now a writer, musician, and quilter. Her previous work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Edge, Art Times Journal, SageWoman, Crone Magazine, the Phoenix Spirit, Bellowing Ark, Minnesota Women’s Press, Ars Lyrica, and the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Latest posts by Lisa Wersal (see all)