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At the Great Gallery

We catch breath when we finally see
those armored giants, great panoply
to wonder at. Who painted them
two thousand years ago or more
and why high on an alcove's stone?

God, man or shaman wears the crown
with armless body, shield-like shape
painted blood-red on lighter rock
mystery of designs incised,
marching with others in a line.

We share the language water knows
beneath these tall red sandstone walls
where we take in sage-scented air,
shelter from the noonday sun
in a grove of cottonwoods.

Remote museum or place of bones
long gone to dust? What words were said
or sung, sacred or quotidian?
Whose whispers on the wind?

Only the hidden canyon knows,
its sheer swirled sides carved eons deep
where new footsteps mark steambed damp
along curves of sand and shallow seep.