In The Mimbres Valley: Haibun by Miriam Sagan

Tired of walking in the snowy arroyo, following footprints left by God knows who, my mood deteriorates. Leaning on my cane I follow you, not wanting to disappoint your faith in my enthusiasm. Suddenly I come upon a huge boulder completely covered in swirling marine fossils—the “jellyfish” and “sea cucumbers” of the pre-Cambrian seas, invertebrate swirls like stone whirlpools. And someone, greedy and eager, has chiseled off a substantial chunk. I judge them, these unseen thieves, but can’t blame them completely.

in my change purse
tiny red chip of
an ancient pot

“Just five more minutes,” you say. But I’ve given up and am sitting on a rock, sobbing with pain and effort. I’ve cursed you, the snow, my feet inappropriately in sneakers, my lame right leg, my stubborn pride. And you have a cellphone snap to show me—the unexciting sketchy pictograph you were in search of. It isn’t dramatic, but you have the satisfaction of a quest fulfilled.

Walking back, I’m glad I gave up when I did. My eyes on the ground, I see more fossils.

black volcanic rock
shining, chock full of tiny
shimmering crystals

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