Midnight Rendezvous in the American Southwest This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


   At nightI forget things. At night I forget that the desert is a visual contradiction:beautiful and deadly. When the sun finally dips below the horizon and thethunderous boulders cool, another lifetime has passed. The darkness dulls thesharp edges of the ancient rocks, and that is why I forget. Things look differentin the dark.

The canyon seems smaller without every curve illuminated. Itseems less menacing, less perilous, kinder. I kid myself and forget this place isruthless in darkness and in light. This place is like a Venus's flytrap,beautiful and deadly. Death and beauty, those themes were invented here and areas old as the orange, heaving megaliths.

Lying on my back, the earthmolded around me, I reach for a handful of sand. I let it run through my fingers,collect under my fingernails. This earth is fine. The light wind is like breaths,steady and even, sure as stone. Lizards run, feet skimming the ground in themoonlight. Sounds like rain.

My eyes fill with sky. It is still astunning midnight blue in the hours before the sun begins its ascent. Thecanyon's walls reach for heaven, like giant tombstones, dark and tremendous. Thedeepest oranges are at the bottom, fading upward. There is history here,stretching back to when the canyons were oceans, great and blue with tides alltheir own.

Then after God sucked this place dry, the people came. Theancient people, the Anasazi, who traveled these paths, left pottery shards sothey could one day find their way back home. A people with the self-reliance of amountain cat; they lived with intensity, ferocity, an itch to survive. I wantthat, too. Maybe it is not too late.

Here, under the canopy ofmidnight, it is impossible not to think I am the first. The first to see thesilvery cottonwood leaves rustle in the moonlight. The first to wake to thespiced air, to inhale the scent of juniper berries, pinion nuts and sweat. Everymorning here is the first. I want to walk carefully over the crytogamic soil. Iwant to wake and see it rain, really rain, not just the pattering of lizards'feet. I want to see God fill the canyons again.

At night I forget things.I forget that people die here. They become disillusioned, dehydrated, die withtheir mouths open like the dinosaurs did. Some looking for a place to relievethemselves step off into nothingness and fall for hours. Others still are sweptoff their feet, stolen from their sleeping bags in the raid of a thunderous flashflood. Then there is more water than anyone could ever need. It is an old storyreally: man against nature. It is a story that I do not want to live. I want onlyto survive this place, like the ancient people, not conquer it.

I cannotstay away. Drawn like a moth to moonlight, I want the freedom, all the beauty,all the knowledge. By morning I will have grown roots in a place where nothinggrows except the history of the rocks. That is what I think, one leg out of mysleeping bag, with my cheek in the sand and the stars glowing overhead.






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By Andy G., Phoenix, AZ


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Copyright 2006 by Teen Ink, The 21st Century and The Young Authors Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.
Thispublication may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system ortransmitted in any form or by any means,
without the writtenpermission of the publisher: The Young Authors Foundation, Inc.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the April 2003 Teen Ink Travel Contest.






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