Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Alluvial Fan

Death Valley NP Dunes

***Definition of Alluvial Fan: the alluvial deposit of a stream where it issues from a gorge upon a plain or of a tributary stream at its junction with the main stream.

On a recent trip to Death Valley, I spent time photographing the dunes, exploring the canyons, and traveling through the desert. In a place with so much rock and sand, to imagine times when it was green and verdant is natural. For me, the high flying Raven's see so much. Birds, in fact, that may live over 50 years. No wonder they appear so witty and smart! Simply lacking our own comforts of home, it is rare we lived longer as hunter-gatherers. So who's wiser? This is a story of the wandering Raven speaking to the mountains.


Of the desert rides a bird of flesh and bone
“Don’t think of her alone,
but far from home.”
Out from the roiling currents she is carried
to the parched Earth

“Tell her oh Dunes of these effervescent mountains
in their vivacious youth!”

In the sand the flesh of washed-out youth
“But LOOK, look up and see
the mountains.”
black and beady eyes stare upward,
as feet crane as feathers are ruffled,
and what is seen is stark cliff
slapped against pale cheeks
and brow of old and elemental mountains

“Ah, but once they were green
and sculpting creeks ran through sculpted meadows,
basic units of beauty petrified
in those moments when youth’s thundering holler
was scattered by the scions of Natures brood
that roamed these precious crests of the Sierra.”

Reaching out, the bird gathers the arid breaths
of these thirsty, weeping denizens
whose anatomy has ground down the grottoes
like the stone that turns and turns
until it has ground itself to nothing
and sees what once was the Funeral Mountains
under seas of green and gracious trees,
isles of twisting and dropping rivers,
and corridors of broad and snaking valleys

“That which appears everlastingly
is as transitory as man,
as malleable by the drifting years,
as measured as her quartered seasons,
as day is to night,
the waning moon to tides,
we are all one day driven down the canyons,
shattered rock ground to sand,
and spread outwardly, an alluvial fan
beneath the sky of the Mojave desert.”