We Met in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

Our campsites adjoining,
the sounds of Nakai flutes a few tents away,
hours after honking birds
grazed the canyon’s scalp at sunset.


exchanged firewood theft technology.
I said:
“sneak in once they leave,
grab as much as you can carry,
charred logs burn faster”;
talked Oregon;
William Least Heat Moon
and Kansas;
discussed lost loves
and the best way to cook
fresh corn over a desert campfire.

Watched pale sandstone walls
an exuberant orange moon
into the black sky.

The fire roared warm.
I drank beer; you watched.
I laughed
when you declared yourself
propagandist photographer
for Ohio State University.


Was that you peeing
against the rocks?
Was that your voice I heard
bumping against boulders
and canyon walls
long after we said goodnight?

I peed too,
carefully into tall grass
as gray jet plumes
herded stars in the sky.

Next day, you were gone,
tent pad neatly swept,
Eastern collared lizards scuttling across
like anxious homesteaders.

Back to traversing the continent
on sabbatical.
Heading toward the spray of ocean.

Your name is lost to me,
but not your voice.

You were
a gift of conversation
and companionship,
a human voice
in a rough desert campsite
that had been almost
in its silence.

You were a friend
during a night
flooded with stars
and memories.

Copyright (text) Andrew Morkes, Nature in Chicagoland

Copyright (photos)
Main Photo: National Park Service
#1: National Park Service
#2: National Park Service
#3: Andrew Morkes
#4: Shutterstock
#5: National Park Service


Looking for some great nature destinations in Chicagoland? If so, I just published Nature in Chicagoland: More Than 120 Fantastic Nature Destinations That You Must Visit. It features amazing destinations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Click on the title to learn more. 

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I have been a writer and editor for more than twenty-five years. I’m the founder of College & Career Press (2002); the editorial director of the CAM Report career newsletter and College Spotlightnewsletter; the author and publisher of “The Morkes Report: College and Career Planning Trends” blog; and the author and publisher of Hot Health Care Careers: 30 Occupations With Fast Growth and Many New Job OpeningsNontraditional Careers for Women and Men: More Than 30 Great Jobs for Women and Men With Apprenticeships Through PhDsThey Teach That in College!?: A Resource Guide to More Than 100 Interesting College Majors, which was selected as one of the best books of the year by the library journal Voice of Youth Advocates; and other titlesThey Teach That in College!? provides more information on environmental- and sustainability-related majors such as Ecotourism, Range Management, Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Built Environment, Sustainability Studies, and Sustainable Agriculture/Organic Farming. I’m also a member of the parent advisory board at my son’s school. 

In addition to these publications, I’ve written more than 40 books about careers for other publishing and media companies including Infobase (such as the venerable Encyclopedia of Careers & Vocational Guidance, the Vault Career Guide to Accounting, and many volumes in the Careers in Focus, Discovering CareersWhat Can I Do Now?!, and Career Skills Library series) and Mason Crest (including those in the Careers in the Building Trades and Cool Careers in Science series).

My poetry has appeared in Cadence, Wisconsin Review, Poetry Motel, Strong Coffee, and Mid-America Review.

2 thoughts on “We Met in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico

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