The four of us ate shrooms and wandered out
into the moonlit desert, the canyon and cacti
in blue-silver light. And when the saguaro 
began to mambo no one got unchill 
or freaked out. John found a cottonwood
that had been hollowed by lightning strike: 
we each took turns standing inside the tree, 
surrounded by wood, enveloped by living wood,
cells swooshing like rainstorm in our ears.
I thought I understood entombed. 
Hours later, coming down, drinking our 
raspberry/hibiscus tea, we sat on a picnic
table and watched a helicopter shine a spotlight on the cliff face. 
The light played back and forth across the rock
for long minutes, a brilliant white luminescent beetle 
crawling along the wall, before it was switched off 
and the helicopter flew back to wherever
it came from. We didn’t know then what we learned later, 
that a climber hadn’t returned home as scheduled. 
Father of two, about our age. Search and rescue 
would return again in the morning, find his body
on the desert floor where it grows so bitter cold at night. 
We’re fully down now, raw-nerved and famished, 
so we trudge back to the car, back to our terribly poetic lives. 
A little worse for wear, but what can you say,
we survived.