Canyon is a general term with a heady array of specifics. It may be as “simple” as a cleft between steep walls or as complex as the Grand Canyon or Mexico’s Barrancas del Cobre—miles across, layered in their depths like ragged, inverted cordilleras. In the Southwest, canyons are assertive landscapes. Aridity sharpens their bones. Rivers may run through them—open arteries in a carapace of rock; others flow only with blow-sand and chokestones. Canyons come blind, box, side, slot, hidden. They stair down and pour off. They gooseneck. They hang. Muley Twist, Desolation, Snap, Lavender, Blue Canyon, Rain Canyon— canyons are where you want to live merely on behalf of their names. The Hopi word pösövi means “canyon corners,” as if one quirky, prismatic facet at a time were all you could manage in this seemingly irrational geography of space and rock.

Ellen Meloy

Twenty years ago, in a neat blue wool suit, in a soft hat made of the same cloth—he could plainly see her. He stooped his yellow head and looked under the hat at her clear, simple face, her living eyes moving, her straight small nose, her jaw beautifully, painfully clear in its form. It was a cool day, but he smelled the odor of pines in the sun, in the granite canyon. Just south of Santa Barbara, that was.

— Saul Bellow, Seize the Day

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