Colorado, we decided, and a torn corner of Utah. Somewhere to heal and find bighorn sheep. I-70 our black ribbon of escape, watching smoke sweep over mountain passes like ghosts out for the haunting. Later, sipping beer, saluted smoky faced firefighters heading home for the night. Sat atop bronze rocks shaped like mushrooms, tracing maps with excited fingers as the horizon fidgeted in the morning haze. Crept across state lines, stalking the river’s brown wash as it sauntered through the valley floor. Welcomed dawn alone at Arches, arcs ablaze with sunlit fire. ‘Arches National Car Park after 9’, a local tipped us off the night before. Locals ourselves now, so far from home.
At Mesa, we stood in ancient cliff face dwellings; native flutes stilling crying babies and murmuring adults. Wondered at its strength, unbowed by time and elements and misfortune. Like us. Straddled the Continental Divide like dizzy kids, feet planted in two different worlds. Feeling loss drain East and West in search of rivers, then oceans, then gone. Switchback roads that made me sick, leading to old ski gondolas that made you smile. Map pages flipped and creased and flipped back again, whilst the radio played Steinbeck’s American journey. Leading us where we needed to go.
Hiked alpine meadows flecked with glacial snow. Too late for wildflowers but ripe for storms, steely afternoon clouds rushing over granite peaks. Smiled secretly as we beat the rain and others didn’t. Later, a coyote pack howled their frustration. Or was it delight? We didn’t care, just enjoyed the chorus as it lingered in the air, witness to a different release from ours. Ten days. Not one bighorn sheep. But we found our place to heal.
Simon Shergold is a teacher from Sutton in the UK. Having thought about writing for a long time, he is finally doing it. His work has appeared in Writer’s Forum and The Cabinet of Heed. Twitter: @SShergold76.