Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Over Utah in January" - 10 Years Later

Ten years ago today, I attended the funeral of my grandmother Margaret Driggs in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had little idea what to expect, since I had never met any of the extended family via her second marriage. (My dad's stepfather, Dr. Howard R. Driggs, was much older than Grandma. He was born in the 1870s into a polygamous Mormon family with 22 children. I have never been Mormon.) And all I could think of, as far as Utah terrain goes, were the salt flats we had driven through way back in 1976 on a family vacation. I was in for a surprise! On the airplane, looking down over Colorado and Utah, my breath was taken away by the gorgeous snow covered mountains. I took out my journal and started writing, and my poem "Over Utah in January" was born. 

Today, I post this with love for my step-second cousins whom I met at the funeral and reception near Salt Lake City. (Thank you to Dan Christensen for reminding me of the anniversary of the funeral.)

Over Utah in January 

by Virginia Knowles

I am in the sky looking down on
Vast speechless stretches 
  of frozen white
Curved round and round by
Slicing crevices and streams
And human roads 
  abandoned though they be
Foothills then soaring 
  mountains beyond
Majestic tall yet distant small
From the sky where I look down

Clustering pines
  (wilderness steeples)
Defer to barren ground below
Shedding to it cumbering, 
  nurturing snow

Upright spires green
Evergreen over branches, trunks, 
  rough and woody brown
Rooted deeply into ascending slope
Yet as living arrows aiming high
To the sky where I look down 

Up and over mountain towers, fly
Peering through mottled fog outstretched

Amid earthy upturned layers, variegated ripples

Shadow clouds now upwisping 
  sharply angled peaks

Oh! These are of no human 
  construct or design
Not even marked by 
  footprints in pristine snow
Just fingerprints, signatures divine
Where winter earth meets winter sky

Yet in the valley 
  I see manly habitation
In patterned rows, 
casual curves beneath the mist
Nestled in yet beckoned 
  to a deep and high communion

Only bold ones venture 
  beyond certain fringes
Strive upward, breathe hard, 
  ascending steep, behold
Some faithful cannot climb 
  but still lift souls to see
To know and long to know

Others seem content merely to stroll 
   in evenness beneath, below
Oblivious to wonder
I am in the sky looking down
Then gazing up in awe at Him
Who gazes down in grace on me below
On me, who sees and longs to know

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