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Mary at the Tattoo Shop
By Marcus Jackson


She counted her money
before we went in,
avenue beside us anxious
with Friday-evening traffic.
Both fourteen, we shared a Newport,
its manila butt salty to our lips.
Inside, from a huge book
of designs and letter styles,
she chose to get “MARY”
in a black, Old English script
on the back of her neck.
The guy who ran the shop
leaned over her for forty minutes
with a needled gun
that buzzed loud
as if trying to get free.
He took her twenty-five dollars
then another ten
for being under age.
Back outside, the sun
dipped behind rooftops,
about to hand the sky over to night.
Lifting her hazel hair,
she asked me to rub
some A&D ointment
on her new tattoo;
my finger glistened in salve
as I reached for her swollen name.

--------

This morning we took the shuttle bus -- the only way to get around Zion National Park (cars are not permitted past the lodge, or even to the lodge without a permit) -- into the Virgin River canyon to the Temple of Sinawava, where the river narrows until it can easily be walked across in good weather. We didn't wade into the water, but we saw several weeping rocks and small waterfalls coming down the tall rocks of the canyon beyond Angels Landing. There were bushy-tailed squirrels and little lizards scampering across the dirt path in front of us. After we hiked back, we went to the park visitor's center and drove around some of the other scenic points before stopping for lunch at the nature center (which sadly was closed). Then we drove to the Kolob Canyons in a different section of the park, where thicker pine forests cover the "finger canyons" of the Colorado Plateau. On the way out of Zion we stopped at some crystal shops and at a little Utah Department of Agriculture ranch with elk, bison, and horned cattle.

Then we drove to Cedar Breaks, an enormous stone amphitheater filled with spires and arches of many colors -- black volcanic rock, gray ash, reddish iron bands, yellow sandstone, and dozens of wildflowers and trees among the flats. The Indian paintbrush, cinquefoil, blue columbine and daisy-type flowers were all in bloom in the grasslands of the plateau. After a quick stop for groceries, we then headed on to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is even more spectacular than the other two. We hiked up to Sunrise Point and down to Bryce Point to see the enormous arches and towers of colored rock and the hoodoos -- spectacular eroded columns of stone where the top is often wider than the bottom. Within a few minutes of driving into the park, we began to see deer eating the grass, though we have not yet seen the endangered Utah prairie dogs that live only here. We are staying in the lodge, though, so hopefully we will see some on Saturday!


The Altar and Pulpit stones en route to the Temple of Sinawava. Our bus driver stopped past Weeping Rock so we could get a good look at them.


The park bus is a requirement for exploring Zion and all the drivers we met fancied themselves comedians -- the last one announced that we were on the nonstop fun bus to Vegas.


We saw many little lizards like this one...


...plus many squirrels and this adorable ground-dwelling rodent that may be a pika.


This amazing multi-layered landscape is in Cedar Breaks, where a fault line and a wide river carved the slanted canyon.


Lovely phallic hoodoos at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park.


These spectacular arches are at Bryce Point...


...as were these chipmunks, playing precariously close to the huge canyon drop-off.


Saturday after spending the day in Bryce we will drive to Kodachrome State Park and maybe Petrified Forest State Park and the Anasazi ruins, though those might wait till Sunday on the way to Arches and Canyonlands.

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