Sunday, January 22, 2012


I had a dream like any dream,
Broken memories shuffled,
Nothing too significant.
We were playing in the dirt
Somewhere in winter desert
Unearthing piles of flaked chert.
In one pile was a beer can.

What was wrong with that beer can?
I remembered it was mine.
Twenty-seven years ago,
I was picnicking with friends.
In my dream, I'm there again
Sitting on a sunny bank
Thick with green beside a stream.

My friends, their faces blurry,
Golden with youth and the sun
Sprawl in the long meadow grass
Debating the sin of trash.
The majority opinion
Is that it's a shameful blight
And humans ruin the Earth.

One argues trash is nature.
Encouraged, I toss my can
In the reeds. Then I panic.
Back in the desert, the waste
Reemerges to taunt me.
I try to rebury it.
Then I think of an excuse.

It's been in the ground so long,
It's an artifact by now.
Oh no, not quite long enough,
Just a quarter century.
To count as an artifact
Trash needs to stay in the dirt
A half century or more.

I pray that no one finds it
Too soon. I feel embarrassed.
Then I was on the highway,
Driving through a foggy storm
Beside the Colorado,
Down the canyon roads last night,
Watching light die on the cliffs

And tossing one piece of trash
After another, out, out
The window, into the dark
Swirling, pristine wilderness.
Beer cans, paper bags, wrappers,
My terror rising to prayer:
Hide forever in the dirt.

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