Antelope Canyon, Arizona
by Jeanie Greenfelder
Our Navajo guide Mike shows no mercy
for the fourteen greenhorns in his Jeep.
On this bucking bronco, we bounce
across the red desert to Antelope Canyon,
a slot canyon with tall, narrow passageways
carved by rain eroding sandstone.
Mike points to graffiti and bullet holes
from before the Tribe took charge.
He sticks to his script: in the rocks,
see the bear, George Washington’s head,
stand here for the best photo,
sit and I’ll take your picture.
Along the serpentine path
between orange and magenta walls,
corkscrew curves dance with sunbeams.
Cameras capture grandeur.
Crowds from across the country,
across continents merge. Strangers,
bonded in the presence of beauty,
speak the same oohs and ahs.
No one wants to leave. We wave
and climb aboard waiting Jeeps.
To soothe us Mike sings in Navajo.
Buckled to our benches, we depart.
PHOTO: Antelope Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Francis Nie on Unsplash
NOTE: Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona, in the northern part of the state, near the Utah border. It includes two separate, scenic slot canyon sections, referred to as Upper Antelope Canyon (or The Crack), and Lower Antelope Canyon (or The Corkscrew). Both are located in the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, and are only accessible by guided tour. Antelope Canyon was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time, the passageways eroded away, deepening the corridors and smoothing hard edges to form characteristic “flowing” shapes.
PHOTO: Antelope Canyon, Arizona, guided tour. Photo by the author.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanie Greenfelder’s poems have been published at American Life in Poetry and Writers’ Almanac; in anthologies: Paris, Etc., Pushing the Envelope: Epistolary Poems; and in journals: Miramar, Thema, Askew, Persimmon Tree, and others. The San Luis Obispo County poet laureate, 2017,2018, Jeanie’s books are: Biting the Apple, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith, and I Got What I Came For. To read more of her poems, visit jeaniegreensfelder.com