Those playgrounds of my youth I long to see;
But the routine of my day bids fancy wait
Until the canyon's call shall find me free.

Today I heard the call and came at last.
The spell of sweet nostalgia held me fast,
And, giving in to pleasant reverie,
I mingled with the ghosts of Zion past.

[...]

I turned and said, "Greetings, old Flanigan Peak."
A voice came back, "Take to whom you speak,"
Brash upstart, you will not find here
The gift of immortality you seek."

“In tales you tell and pictures that you paint,
Your forebears oft appear without a taint;
But while you venerate ancestral lore,
Antiquity alone does not make one a saint.

“Those ghosts of yesterday with whom you talk
Are merely squatters in this land, and mock
The sanctity of these enduring shrines;
For flesh is not as durable as rock.

“Frail man, look quickly at my alpenglow;
For you shall pass, much as the winter snow.
Long after you have gone I’ll keep my watch.
I saw the Anasazi come and go.”

“Great Watchman, I look up to you.” I said,
“But let me also love my kindred dead,
And all whose sweat and toil built thoroughfares
On which the feet of all the world now tread.

“I’ll worship at these temples, not built by man,
And sing about their splendor while I can.
But I would give the pioneer his due.”
And the mountain smiled approval of my plan.

Then as I left I thought about my day;
And all my friends of now and yesterday.
I know their deeds are graven in the stone;
Instead of lightly scribbled in the clay.

As long as I can feel and hear and see
I’ll come here oft, just save a nook for me.
And when these senses dim, I’ll take my place
Among the ghosts of Zion yet to be.


—"The Ghosts of Zion" (excerpted),
J.L. Crawford
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