Duet: Salt Lake Valley

Another evening is announced
     by moonlit clouds fused to far-off
          crests that rise like a serrated ledge
               at the desert's edge.

When those first explorers arrived,
     it must have been just like this--
          that soft light of night filling
               the whole bowl of valley

opening up in front of them, everything
     awash with its translucent touch.
          Gazing across this great lake
               to the emptiness beyond,

how could those pioneers not have felt
     blessed by the promise
          such a vast expanse suggested?
Tonight, I can see the streetlights
     of the city spread before me,
          the busy interstate unravelling
               into the distant desert

as if in an effort to redefine this landscape,
     surely reshaping the view
          those early settlers knew so well.
                A plane's landing light

flinches through cloud cover, descends
     over the dark harvest of homes
          and businesses that now crowd
               the flatlands below,

somehow resembling the uncertain flight
     of a firefly as it slowly moves
          across frayed shadows of mountains.

- Edward Byrne

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