Further! Adventures on the Mojave Trail – Ascent



Ortíz climbs along a narrow trail
the path rounds jagged rocks and cactus

beneath the canopy of a Palo Verde
the sun’s rays crisscross in a mesh of bright coolness
he allows himself a brief rest under its shade

as he waits
a calmness fills him
he breathes deep the sage-scented air
a coyote crosses the trail

a hawk’s cry pierces the stillness
“Cree-awk-awk!” it is a lonesome song
it fills him with longing
he contemplates the bird’s flight
¡Que marvillas vos ojos han visto! What stories your eyes could tell!

the bird catches air pockets that rise and fall
mixing with currents of hot and cooler upper air

the hawk is circling something
that waits atop the mountain
Ortíz is just as determined as the hawk to see what it is

he steps out from the refuge of the Palo Verde’s willows

the climb at first is easy
he remains surefooted on the loose scree that litters the trail
dragging the spines of a large ocotillo branch across a sharp rock
he rubs the surface smooth
to use as a staff

“¡Si! Como el brujo que bajó la montana.
Yeah! Like the old sage come down from the mountain,” he muses aloud
“Pues ¡subo! Only I’m going up!”

he ascends


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