I step to the reservation desk
to confirm a room. Luggage leans against
my leg. I scribble my name on the register,
already see myself captured in a Kodak
snapshot, square chin shaved too close,
smile stretching my face from slack of being

Outside, Rocky Mountains cloud over
with threat of a storm. Lightning slices
twilight. Before I lug suitcases to my room,
I watch rain, like sheets of transparent plastic,
pound lobby windows.

As I unpack, I pretend this is more than vacation.
Perhaps a new life is in the background as much
as the mountains. Worn from travel, I pull back
covers, slip into bed. Tomorrow I will gap
at the thermal area which they say
looks like an inside-out cave.

Morning comes quick, and I dress for breakfast.
I sit at a table facing the same windows where,
yesterday, thunderous rain curtained glass
to untransparent. This early, sunrise is feverish
red with a hint of pink. I look around at other
folks who have come to breakfast, think how
over the years, countless people have disconnected
from daily routines, habits of another world,
to visit here.

The guide arrives, a park ranger fresh
as a nineteen-year-old, dressed in self-assurance.
He talks about limestone rock formations, but
I can’t draw my mind away from his youth.
He hinges on beautiful,

July’s yellow light glosses tired, expectant faces
that gaze at a broad hillside of calcium carbonate.
Some wear t-shirts on which an Indian praises sky.
Later, many will stop at the souvenir shop
to buy evidence of where they have been.
Back home, they will rearrange whatnot shelves
to accommodate a sunset painted on a cheap ashtray.