Ruin, Canyon de Chelly by Alex Stanley My Navajo guide pulls his horse to a chainlink fence, rests his reins on the horn of the saddle. I pull mine. “Here’s the first ruin,” he says. “Where?” I ask. “If it were early morning, it’d be clearer. It faces east to catch the warmth of the sun at golden hour,” he says. I strain my eyes to find the the windows, the doorways. “Which doesn’t change the fact it looks more like a rockslide,” he stops to laugh. “I think some rock fell on top.” White pictographs dot the canyon face above: gods, rattles, men, horses, deer, turkeys, ducks, and handprints. The artists are gone, but they left what they found, that by the present they gave to the future, descendants who could come back to these striped canyon walls after the battles, the wars, the marches, and schools. They would make their way back into the mouth of this canyon, look again on the waterways running upon its sand tongue, away from the scars we now leave behind on the landscape, into the canyon that covered itself in a new skin after they left.
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Alex Stanley is a graduate of Boston College, and he received his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine. He is a former sports journalist, and his sports writing has been featured in Sports Illustrated. His published poems have appeared in American Poets Magazine, HCE Review, Poet’s Choice, Helix Magazine, Sunspot Literary Journal, RockPaperPoem, Limit Experience Journal, Beyond Words Magazine, Wingless Dreamer, Clepsydra Literary and Art Magazine, The Closed Eye Open, Duck Lake Journal, The Write Launch, Doozine, and Hare’s Paw Literary Journal. He is a recipient of the 2021 Academy of American Poets Award. He resides in Costa Mesa, CA.