A tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid
drainage basin or badland.
……….. —National Park Service

Bristlecone Pines’ storm-scoured
roots twist into limestone slopes
yielding to ice that widens
cliff-face caverns and grottoes,
erosion’s slow slide gliding

counterclockwise underneath
afternoon’s unbroken blue.
Numinous lithic fingers
yoke cycles of frost and thaw,
overarch our path down to
nodes fissured in sandstone shade.

Pinnacles sculpted by wind
almost translucent against
rosy dusk’s backlighting. What
keeps us on these scumbled slopes?

Under what spell do hoodoos
tease, tempt, voodoo us into
acquiescence to the stone?
How evening’s mauve shadows move

up the windowed rock, help us,
spires, to reflect you, as clay
arcs toward the sky cradle’s light.


Author’s Bio

CAROLYNE WRIGHT’s co-edited anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse Press, 2015), received ten Pushcart Prize nominations and was a finalist in the Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Awards. She has published nine poetry volumes, five books of poetry in translation, and a collection of essays; and has received Fulbright, NEA and Instituto Sacatar (Brazil) fellowships, among others. Her work has appeared twice before in Vallum, most recently in issue 12:2. She teaches for Seattle’s Richard Hugo House and for the Antioch University Los Angeles MFA Program.