Ascetic Backwash

One Autumn in Colorado, the leaves
meleed reds and burnt oranges to such extent
that a whimsy struck me about how other states would envy
if they could see these riots; how they'd grieve
over their puny pastels and low, hazy mountains--mediocre
traveling shows, they'd feel themselves--vaudevillian has-beens ...
Our train crawled through Gelnwood,
sunlighted reds sparkling in water splashes
along a stream laughing as if it'd had a happy childhood;
Then as we left Colorado on a gasp of a cliff
and wound down to barren Eastern Utah,
with its rough plains and stark white stone pillars of Zion,
some dark, hedonistic reversal precipitated in me;
Inexplicably I felt the white passion of asceticism
in those starved landscapes and thought,
"No wonder a strange, unique religion fulled-birthed in Utah."

by Edith Scott Johnson

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