Poem by Shannon Salter, read at the site of the Yellow Pine Solar Project in Pahrump Valley

Jackrabbit,
you are my brother!
The blue whale burst off inside you
The white sun

It is 1905 and America has built the Union Pacific Railroad
And the heart of God has put his face onto the cement

Kissing the Earth, he calls to the First Light:

Thou are

And to the sky he shows his body
And to the river

We are here to honor each other as well as the land
And the invisible majesty which we cannot see
We are here to call forth a new way of Being
A new sound, a new silence

My heart is broken, my mind
empty

This valley is alive.
This valley is the face of God.

I must believe in what is possible, that the kingdom is within us, that we are strong, that we can build a world which does not destroy Life, that does not insult the living, that does not forsake the dead, nor the unborn. {I believe in a coming revolution of things that will make everything which has come before turn red with shame.}
I believe I am this Yucca. I am this stone.

10,000 years ago the ancients dwelled in these valleys. They are the Pipa Aha Macav, the people beside the river, and from this the great Mojave takes its name. 10,000 years ago this was not a desert, it was a lagoon, and before that it was the ocean.
Time is standing still. Time is stopped.
The dead are with us.
Reach inside the river and that is the Great Spirit.
I believe in the human spirit. I see you. My heart is broken and my heart is strong, it lives and breathes.

The psychologist C.A. Meir writes that, as wilderness is destroyed, it does not disappear. Instead, it moves inside the human mind. It opens a space.

Nothing disappears.

I need the open sky like I need my brother. Like I need my Friend. I need the open valleys and the mountains around us without which we would belong nowhere

This valley is a bowl, and the mountains are what keep us.

Our sky is a miracle.

Go all the way in. Go to the center, go to the beginning.

These yucca are my brothers and sisters.
How dare they kill my brothers and sisters.
This soil is my oldest friend.
How dare they take my oldest friend.

To protect the wild is to protect what is gentle.

there is only
the big moon listening
the big sun watching,
the river taking us in its long, wet mouth.

I will go with you.

I will give you my body. I will give you this stone.

This is the ministry of birds
This is an echo around the immortal rim
Origin of love beyond, when God became empty
My heart is broken and it is strong, in death it lives and breathes
And the rabbit is spilling itself through a viscous silence, and the fox is nesting in the field.
Remember the wind.
Remember the wind.
The dead are with us. The dead are filling this valley.

And in the words of Yves Bonnefoy:

So we will walk on the ruins of a vast sky,
The far-off landscape will bloom
Like a destiny in the vivid light.

The long-sought most beautiful country
Will lie before us, land of salamanders

Look, you will say, at this stone:
Death shines from it.
Secret lamp it is this that burns under our steps
Thus we walk lighted.

And, finally, in the words of Juan Gelman:

Death itself has come with its documentation
We’re going to take up again
The struggle
Again, we’re going to begin again
We’re going to begin all of us
Against the great defeat of the world
Little companeros who never end
Or who burn like fire in the memory
Again and again and again

Shannon Salter lives in Nipton, California, is a Ph.D candidate at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, and is an advocate for preservation of unspoiled deserts.

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