A Leveling
by Trish Hopkinson

He brought us here, to this juniper desert,
across Midwestern state borders into broken promise,

sloughing family fragments like tire treads along the way.
I-80 rose up like Hell’s Backbone, egoistic and narrow-

sighted with drops on either side of slight rails.
We should have been safe in the valleys,

miles away from Boulder Mountain . . .
And yet I learned to fear altitudes,

the uncertainty of my own feet,
the distant perspective of abandonment.

Two years gone. Maybe it wasn’t long enough.
The knee-locking dread never subsides.

Instead, vertigo sets in on each downward step,
handrails clinched each time I try high heels

and the teetering always sets me down bare.
How can I be bowed into such spinelessness,

faint at the sight of red clay cliffs and sloping pines—
a grand staircase. Father Escalante would pray for me

to forgive. He would level my landings. He would lead
me to grace.

SOURCE: Originally published by Wicked Banshee Press, Issue #2 Fall 2014.

PHOTO: “Red Cliffs, Moab, Utah,” photo by Red Cliffs Lodge.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The landscape of Utah is quite a bit different from that of Missouri, where I was born and lived until I was 10 years old. This poem captures some of the Utah landscape that is still so stunning to a family of Midwesterners.

Hopkinson 2015

Trish Hopkinson
has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including  StirringChagrin River Review, and The Found Poetry Review. Hopkinson is co-founder of a local poetry group,Rock Canyon Poets. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures at