On a Red Boulder

Emily Strauss

Dan Namingha, Octobr Showers #, Acrylic on Canvas, 36"x30" ©2019

On a Red Boulder


the last family camp out         I was 12          chubby

tall       bad skin           mother got slapped     right

in front of us   she was mouthy though     in the camp

ground see       enormous boulders     kids would

climb               Cleveland        some boy's family

was from         I'd never heard of it     a boy

my age            next to us       he looked at me            

I thought it meant something             smooth cool    red rock

Utah is full of sandstone         early morning chill

parents asleep             stupid kid brother        I climbed

the sky red      dawn               witnesses

I imagined waiting        the boy would arrive but I

couldn't see what else he never came       dry stone

held me           waited its turn             warm to the touch

now     the sun risen    mother sheepish          red eyes

canyon wrens trilling              I finally landed            hard

ground hopeful           hopeless child             stupid boy

dumb rock      witness to the end of innocence          mother

knew then           she had always suspected Roy   

violence     of earth fractures          and dreams. 

Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 500 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is a Best of the Net and twice a Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a retired teacher living in Oregon.