I thought the Canyon swallowed my father
when he climbed, camera-backed, down
the jagged slope, sloping toward its guts.
Emerging minutes later, a sunbleached rock
in each hand, he panned the crest for anyone
who might see. “You can’t take these,”
he said. “They belong to the government.”
At ten years old, I assumed everything did.
And I was careful when I handled anything:
a grocery cart, a pencil at school,
the chipped paint on the monkey bars.
Everything belonged to them.
Now, when I see those canyon rocks,
the bookends in the den, Bukowski tilting
toward the Earth, I pretend we’re fugitives,
all of us, waiting for the blue lights, the sirens
to scream for their rocks, to lure us back
to the steeping cliffs, where we plummet.
Wes Ward holds a Master’s of Arts in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in various magazines and journals, including North American Review, Sewanee Theological Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. Wes teaches high school English in York, PA and lives with his wife, Karen, and his children, Ethan and Isley, in Newville, PA.