In this sandstone labyrinth
wind insists on
bending my senses
Inches might as well be miles
as I pretend to swim
the space I am in
all the while drowning.
O for an aisle out to the green sloping lands
stretching open under lazy sky.
Might You descend, lend a hand,
send hope, a life-rope lead
out of this maze to end
my senseless floundering?
I pass a point
I swear I’ve passed before
a dozen times and more absurd
will every cycle grind
unless I find the wind turned word,
the air turned breath,
the shadow become walking man,
the hollow space a wake that I can follow in,
a whisper I can hold on to with fumbling fingers
and finally understand.
This poem continues my series of poems that explore human becoming through the metaphor device of iconic sandstone formations in Utah's Arches National Monument.
This is how the National Park Foundation describes the The Fiery Furnace hike: One of the most popular and most challenging hikes in Arches National Park, Fiery Furnace spans a roughly 2-mile route between towering, maze-like canyon walls. Exploring it is a spectacular, otherworldly experience not without its challenges. Unlike many hiking trails, which feature steep climbs and high elevations, Fiery Furnace tests your ability to keep your bearings and find solid footing in a disorienting place. There are no trail signs or markers, and GPS units have a tendency to fail among the lofty sandstone walls. Navigating the difficult passages takes stamina, agility, and acute attention to detail.
The Fiery Furnace offers up a rich metaphor for the common condition of human lostness and disorientation. In the poem I inch toward the solution that we cannot untangle our own lostness and that we need divine intervention--but not some abstract intangible intervention from on high. Rather we need a divine guide to come in flesh (shadow become walking man)Whom we can actually follow and hold on to even with our fumbling fingers.
The name Fiery Furnace itself is an allusion to a story in the Old Testament of the Bible (in the book of Daniel) where three devout followers of God, thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol, experience God come and join them in person in their peril, the result of which was that not even a hair on their heads was singed.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.Com: Creative Commons License.