1,237 Steps by Chloe Skidmore

It takes 1,237 steps to get from the top of the dune to the water.
1,237 steps in silky beach sand,
a squishy clay mixture,
the dusty, cracked lakebed.
1,237 steps which must be at least 800 too many.

"Imagine your ankles covered in water,"
she said as we approached the emptiness where the lake should be.
A prayer for restoration,
a belief in her bright future.

I could tell you how Great Salt Lake buoys my heart, provides me a spacious refuge.
I could tell you about walking into the fields of dry microbialites
which is like walking into a field of bodies;
shock and grief that our actions have led to such destruction.
What will the eared grebes eat? Where will the Northern shovelers go?
I could remind you of how critical she is to the Utah economy.

Instead, let's sit next to her,
not expecting anything from her,
her worth not tied to production.

Let's love her as she is,
with appreciation for her stink, her clouds of bugs, her stinging salt,
reverence for everything she's seen.
Let's walk 1,237 steps to her shore
and 1,237 steps back
for as long as we need to,
until our ankles are covered in water.

Note from the poet: I'm someone who knows what it feels like to shrivel and then come back to life. I'm here to witness her next rebirth.

This verse is part of irreplaceable, a collective prayer of praise for Great Salt Lake.