Return to Raft River

By Hanna Johnson

Wind was whispering in my ears,
icy secrets that made my head hurt.
Endless hills surrounded me 
carved out by wind and 
covered in low growing florid bursts, 
Castillejas, called Indian Paintbrush,  
effloresced in shades of blush and blood
harbored beneath branches
of bitterbrush or sage. These parasitic creatures
sought shelter from the wind, owing their
stunted growth, to an aeolian world. 

My mud covered boots carried me farther 
from dark thoughts and somber memories,
footprints marked my path as it wound 
up and up the steeply sloping bluffs

I reached the jagged quartzite outcrop
atop the ridge, out of breath and 
nearly hidden from blue eyes I 
perceived to be below.
The wind whistled through the 
perforated stone keys, trilling at me. 
I sought shelter in the space 
between boulder and cliff 
a warm, silent fissure in stone 
I leaned my back against,
orange and green ringed lichen.
My soul sighed sanctuary
as my head rested against the crag
a flutter from deep within 
this crack caught my eye.
A small painted lady, with
scarlet and black dusted wings
yellow lightbulb tipped antenna, her
velvet wings tickled the air 
between us

Hannah Johnson is a botanist working in the red rock vistas and plateaus of Southern Utah. The landscape surrounding her is infectious and filled with awe. Much of her work is inspired by the landscapes and plants she encounters while working and playing among the rocks and flowers.

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