Snapshot of the West
by Bernice Lewis


Nowadays
I leave my camera at home
I already have a plethora of visual proof
That I’ve touched red rock
inhaled dry air
dealt with the fine dust
and gasped happily
as I ascended into open space

Cheerfully I focus their digital cameras
taking photos for the folks who drove out from Iowa and Michigan
folks who chose to spend forty-eight hours of a precious spring break
trying to feel close to the things the American West has come to represent

No one seems to notice
that the cowboys and Indians are gone
tourists roll small children in strollers
through pinon and cedar brush
encouraging them to sniff the freedom, the adventure
the come-what-may history
All the while covering them with sunscreen
and plying them with goldfish and bottled water

I move past them
looking for an unpaved trail.
challenging myself toward acclimation
I let the wind ruin my hair
That very same wind that must have greeted the exhausted gold miner
challenged the pioneer women who tried to garden and wash
brought the fine spirit of antiquity to the Ute and the Navajo
until time took over
and changed the face of their lands
forever

supper calls
I climb down and head for the highway
carrying my snapshots in an unsharable place
privileged for the chance to glimpse an era
irretrievably romantic
irretrievably gone






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