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Poem: The Copper Desert

Updated on May 26, 2011

 When I was in college I wrote a series of poems about my life with Jesus. Prose has come to be more my medium, but the poems were very meaningful to me at the time, and they continue to be. Every so often I pull them all out and read them again.

This one probably says the most about my journey with Him. It was inspired by a dream I had as a teenager, a dream which kept intruding into my life for the next 20 years. I took some poetic license in the poem (it isn't an exact description of the dream - more an expression of the atmosphere of it.)

St Louis Canyon Waterfall
St Louis Canyon Waterfall | Source
Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon | Source
Box Canyon Falls
Box Canyon Falls | Source

The Copper Desert

Once I found the copper desert,

warm to the touch.

High walls,


the sun’s gaze heavy

and dry

and only the painted lizards


in clear heated air.

Near sunset

light fell like


water drops

one by one

like the touch of light fingertips

like the palm of his hand


on my head.

The place grew more still

and free,

a red panorama, long


the weight

of his eyes on me

like the air before

a storm.

Stars whitened

into the near dawn sky.


of outline, rocks,


and on the ridge above

a hunting owl

poised as the moon

before it fades.

The dream that inspired the poem

In the dream I was with a big group of people out in the desert, and we were waiting for Jesus. Then, all the others were suddenly gone, and Jesus took me alone down into a canyon. The sides of the canyon were beautifully sculpted sandstone, a resonant orange color. It was deep and narrow, and a light waterfall came from above, more like droplets than a pouring stream. Only a slice of the blue sky above could be seen because of the canyon's curving walls. Jesus wrapped a long white gauzy cloth around me untill I was completely covered, then placed me under the waterfall. He let the water completely saturate the cloth (this took awhile), then gently drew me out and unwound the cloth. It unfurled as though there was a strong wind, though I didn't feel a wind. Down at one end of this long white banner was a circle, about 12 inches diameter, that was now colored with the same deep orange of the canyon wall. Although He didn't speak, I understood that Jesus was telling me that the white cloth represented myself, and the (rather small) orange circle represented how much of His nature was in me at this time. He also intimated (again without words), that the circle would grow and grow throughout my life, meaning that His nature inside me would grow.

Life goes on

I treasured the dream, considered it a promise He had given me. But my life went on, I went to college, married, had two babies. One evening, with my husband away on a business trip and both kids down for the night, I sat in the livingroom folding laundry, the TV on to a documentary to give me some company. I wasn't really listening to the program, I was thinking about how mundane my life of diapers, naptime and grocery shopping had become. I thought over the dream, how I had believed great things would happen in my life, and after all I had become such an ordinary suburban mom. Then suddenly I heard the background murmer of the television: "I was in a canyon with high orange walls, only a long narrow slice of the sky was visible, and a very light waterfall was coming from above." I snapped to attention. The documentary was about an explorer who set out to canoe through all the canyons which would be flooded when the Hoover Dam was built. She had protested the building of the dam because these lovely canyons would all end up underwater, but the conservationists lost that battle. The canyon she had just been describing, the one that bore a striking resemblence to the one in my dream, was called Glen Canyon.

Though my life had become, it seemed, very mundane, I took this as a message from Him that His promise was as alive as ever.

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon | Source

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