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On the Brink


by Steph Euwema

April 11, 2003

I stood on the brink of death yesterday, the world lay below me. Beckoning arms of mother earth were calling to me. Asking upon a whispering breeze of sweet sage brush to fall into her arms and become one with the country. Calling to my soul wanting to envelope me in her arms of red mud; to take the beast of my burdens and remove all of the frustration and worry of a world so desperate to disclose its wrath upon me. Yes I stood next to death and looked into its warm arms of comfort and sweet sullenness.

I stared over the edge looming below, 200 feet of stone rising dramatically from the desert landscape. A phenomenon to the geologist, who will study its faithful structure, but a sacred oasis for the climber who respects the rock like the mouse respects the powerful jaws of a rattle snake, cautious of the outcome, yet yearning for the desire to challenge the danger and find out the true meaning of its purpose. The red stone of the tower of babble, the washing woman standing beside the monster, all these are outlined by the clear blue of a sky pristine of a tainted cloud. Only a short time in geology will the powerful images of nature ruling the earth fall to the forces to be, as winter winds and summer sun rip and burn through its surface defacing the might structures. It will fall to the power of the earth, becoming nothing more than a boulder field.

No barriers with held my urge to control, and yet no barriers could control. To the right so clear so blue, stood the beautiful La Sals standing as a island of refreshing clear white against the desert red.

Below lie my kingdom of canyons, twisting right and left, cut through by the mighty Colorado River and over lapping themselves in a pattern of chaotic beauty where only the birds of the sky could only truly appreciate their vast splendor.

From below flowing through my nostrils enveloping my senses comes sweet sage brush. The sound of laughter and happiness ruminates from behind me and floats on the breeze brushing against my ears. I pick up a stone, weighty and graining, it covers my palm. I can see the individual pieces of sand that have molded together, I squeeze and it crumbles some sand falls from the stone and is swept by the wind off the cliff. The rocks weight hangs like a burden on my hand searching for completion. I toss it. It hangs on the blue shelf of sky, and then tumbles end over end until the only remembrance of its existence is the passing of a silent rumble, borne over 8 seconds of the space between ground and air. The sandstone returns to the earth from whence it came, upon the ground it breaks and crumbles into a cloud of dust, soon to settle to sand upon the earth, and in years to be joined by the tower in a powerful erosion of the mighty giant. Mother earth has released its pull over me and I settle with the thought that someday I will return to the beckoning arms of a sweet, serene mother.

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