Paradise Lust

after Wallace Stegner’s “Crossing into Eden”

Five miles in
and 3000 feet up:
a grueling ascent
of a tortured canyon
called Hades—
up from the balsam fir,
through the blue spruce
into the Engelmann
and subalpine.

Then another three miles
of purring creek,
blossom-endowed meadows,
whipped-cream clouds,
soft forest duff,
strings of eutrophic ponds,
ovaled lakes dimpled
with circles of rising trout,
watchful osprey in deadhead snags,
and finally a shoreline camp
betwixt cerulean curves
of water and firmament
crowning the Uinta crest.

We know by instinct
what Wallace
and we have found
and call it by name
in pregnant prose
and purple poesy:

Yet we respond not
with reverent awe.
We instead transgress
all that is pure and decent.
We drive stakes into heaven’s heart
in vain stabs at shelter.
We gut the glut of cutthroat,
fill ugly holes with gills, entrails,
and wads of reeking Charmin.
We fabricate daft fancies
of marten, deer, and jays
who slowly grow to love us.
We stain the soil with rings of ash
and displaced stone
discernible for a score of years,
and into the Tree of Life
pound nails from which to hang
all but our sorry heads.

Because our greedy bellies are sated,
we need not eat from the other tree.
We already know of good and evil,
and that our days here are numbered.
One way or the bloody other,
we either do right—turn, and leave—
or stay; Eden soon enough must disown us.

About Greg Wright

I have worn many hats as a writer and editor over the years. Unlike my scholarly and journalistic work from the "old days" at Hollywood Jesus, Past the Popcorn, or SeaTac Blog, the writing here is of a more overtly personal and spiritual nature. I hope it provokes you as much as it provokes me.
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