Hours have passed with each footfall bringing us closer to the village,
it would be less difficult if I knew where we were going, but I am ignorant of our destination,
how far we need to travel,
we are seeing the canyon for the trees, the red rocks,
the crows flying in circles, the little lizards seeking shade,
refuge from the sun, as we do, at every outcrop of rock that at noon-time
can still offer the solace of shadow from the heat,
that radiating from sky and ground that has my water spent too early,
that sees my footfalls quickening for the sound of the river
and the small forest that quenches its’ roots with the water table,
and we are encouraged by a bridge that points the way to the village,
and in my mind I am settling, thinking I am nearly done.

We arrive and register as tourists, receive bands that state as such,
and sit and talk with others that have trekked in, and in standing,
my shin protests, nearly gives out right then and there,
and we begin our expedition for the campground;
every step has become an agony, a sharp tinge  just below where femur meets tibia,
it is this sacred place of a displaced people exacting a sacrifice,
more subtle in the others in the group, whose weary bones trudge forward in the dwindling light,
who demand to quit at every rest area, rules be damned, make this our home these next two days,
and I whimper and moan with every decision to press forward,
to seek the river-side where a friend has made camp,
and I curse the pristine waters, the waterfall at the rocky descent,
the birds and the insects and the fish that swim, the trees that were born there,
envied their lazy existence whereas my arrival was marked by pain,
past houses of the village, and hills that saw me weep for the thought of traversing them,
past gorgeous steps steeped in water, unappreciated for their look by desirous of their cool waters lapping my feet,
past trees struck in by lightning, exclusively burnt amid a small forest on a rocky outcrop,
past dips and little meadows, over and past a wood bridge,
past a cemetery that seemed inviting and calling my name,
past Havasu Falls and the trail that exacted revenge with their rocky protrusions and settling from a recent flood,
tomahawks crashing against a shinbone through each step,
and when we arrive at the camp my whimpering does not cease but intensifies,
lazying in the tent I grudgingly helped erect,
a sour disposition marring the beauty of the place,
my groans gaining  ground in my psyche and making dour my whole life,
assured that I shall never be able to walk right again and that this was a terrible mistake as I imbibe a 1,000 mg of ibuprofen with a cinnamon whiskey chaser, smuggled illegally in this dry place, for the history whiskey has with the residents.

In the morning the pain is not waning, but my love and I hobble to the nearest waterfall and gingerly dip into the cool waters there;
it is early enough in the morning that there are no tourists yet,
just locals enjoying the serenity, the tranquility, the calming pools that cascade across rock and sand and spill into a lower pool and a lower pool and becomes a creek again,
where an Indian prince and princess have come to woo each other as their honored ancestors did,
beneath the spray and the algae and the cool waters and the eddies and the currents that push one away from the cascading water,
and in there I am refreshed, my limbs relaxing,
the sacrifice wanes, tomahawk eased out of flesh,
and when we leave we are anew, alive, alight,
sore but not wincing, groaning, aching with the avarice of the hike,
and proceed to camp and would be amorous if not for the return of our camp-mates,
who lead us where they were earlier,
and scale with us down a cliff-face with chains and steps carved into the tunnels in the rock and wooden ladders slippery with mud from boots cascading down with dirt and the water spraying from the 200 foot waterfall called Mooney;
there we linger and relax and swim and laugh,
I am barefoot and arguing soles against the pebbles and rocks and craggy places that long to jam toes and snag skin but I lose no blood or get protracted pain,
and we are climbing again, fighting gravity and fear and our own lethargy to scale again to our campground,
and feeling my sacrificed shin no more, my love and I trek back to the village,
two miles that nearly ended us,
to get sodas for our comrades, and food that has not been made devoid of moisture so that we might make it some vestige of its former self again with boiling water,
and we appreciate the scenery that were merely markers of our misery the day before,
the serenity of the cemetery and the rocks and flowers and the hills we would traverse again in the morning weighted,
now by naught but a water pack for the two of us,
and we are blissful being with each other in this beautiful place
and that the store is open, where we get cold drinks and microwave burritos and head back, unwilling to go another mile for the Peach Festival that begins to swing about the time we arrive, so that we will not need artificial light to scale down the crags,
and we hold hands and sojourn back the way we came,
with our beverages and bacon and return to play Cards Against Humanity in red light while watching for meteors that were falling while we camped there.

That night, in the utter darkness but for a glow-in-the-dark condom, we made love in our tent with the mesh windows giving way to the stars,
near silent and blind but for the sky that gleamed above us,
as we had done the night before despite our pain,
fearful we would ache forever and never achieve our mutual pleasure again,
coming quietly as small frogs leap at insects scurrying,
as large spiders dangled from trees and sought refuge from its’ predators atop a friend’s tent and sought some way in,
as the squirrels scampered off with food foolishly left unguarded for a moment,
we became one with each other as we communed with nature,
and in the morning we arose before the sun came up and packed the last of our things and headed out encumbered as the sun began to barely crest the canyon and shine down,
and despite the cool air we were sweating, saline coating our clothes,
pushing quickly against the hills that nearly brought us down but brought us down to the camp instead,
and we were overcome by those who ran,
wanting quickness to get in line for the helicopter out,
which we took too, rising above the world that took its toll over so many hours in mere minutes,
amazed by the wonder of everything we experienced,
and awake at the world.


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