This is the ocean I call Wyoming.
by Carrie Naughton

I can breathe in these waters,
these dry seabeds, this thundering dust
falling from the air, rising from the plains.
I know joy: in the rains
when the wind dreams in my hair,
when blue peaks huddle in moonlight,
when the sun drips shadows through cottonwoods
onto a trail beneath my feet.

My littoral earth, I’ve come here to be born, or die.
These four straight lines cannot contain you.
I have seen your oilfires burning beside the dark highway
in between hallucinations and bullet-riddled roadsigns.
In my dreams, I am lost in a great sage desert of bones,
and the nodding pumpjacks battle dinosaurs
beneath a red sun, in a red sea,
Rawlins red warpaint on my pale face.
El Signor and Lost Soldier and Washakie run beside me.

I am eating a heart, the heart of Wyoming,
still pounding in the Craton, the Mowry Shale,
the Frontier Sandstone.
In my grasping hands, it beats to fine powder, and
sifting from my fingers,
returns to the waiting deeps of sky.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written in 1996, the year I first moved to Wyoming. I was 22 years old. Although I have lived near the Tetons intermittently since then, in January of 2015 I finally returned to stay forever. Bliss.

IMAGE: “Teton Drama” (Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming) by Andrew Soundarajan.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carrie Naughton is a freelance bookkeeper who writes speculative fiction, environmental essays, and poetry. Her work can be read at freezeframefiction, Luna Station Quarterly, and Slink Chunk Press, with poems forthcoming in NonBinary Review and Star*Line. Find her at — where she blogs frequently about whatever captures her interest.