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Courthouse Butte - a Poem in Red Rock

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Courthouse Butte

I’m standing at the dirt end

of Lee Mountain Road,

not far from Oak Creek,

watching the late rays of sun

brush across the cliffs of Courthouse Butte.

I breathe, and watch the light

wander across

layers of red sand

turned to red rock

unable as always

to avert my eyes.

They say this rock

was born from water,

wind, and time,

entire mountain ranges

dissolving into sand

for millions and millions

of years – a million

circles around the sun,

and another, and


a thousand feet of

red sand drifting down

into an ancient sea,

turning sand dunes and

dissolved mountains

back into rock.

Even ancient sponges

are turned to stone

in the gentle infinite

weight of the sea.

Then the waters

recede -

the sands pack up

and rise


turning into rock


rock buried under

ever more rock.

It all sets sail

upward into light into the heat and the dry into the plains flowing liquid with grass

into fresh water once more.

Even as it rises it


water cutting,

cracking, dissolving

the Kaibab Plateau once more

into sand and water

flowing to the sea.

I stare some more.

Layers and layers of rock –

layers of sky and cloud and light.

Who can count like this?

I’m only fifty myself –

one circle around the sun

for every million of this cliff.

I take a picture,

the light just right

after months of waiting –

fifty million years in

a sixtieth of a second.

I turn, and keep walking

down the dirt end

of Lee Mountain road.


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