By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

"The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park's 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today."
-SD National Park Service
It wasn't enough to see the Badlands from a distance; my soul required its own personal encounter.
A land of intrigue and mystique, I launched myself whole-heartedly into the terrain upon our purchase of a National Park pass.
It was worth every dollar.
Instantly ...
The intriguing land formation captivated.
Mystique of terrain aroused.
Desert wilderness deposited itself.
Word and wilderness wove themselves seamlessly into my soul.
Two flat-paddled cactus greens protected a velvet yellow rose barely opened.
Wholly mine for the viewing, since I'd ventured down an isolated path of my own, I bent down and privately touched her soft beautiful velvet.
She bore the look of a single stemmed rose belonging to a lover, and adorned the sun-baked clay in an extraordinary way.
She almost didn't belong and yet so perfectly did.
 I can't forget her.
 The yellow rose blooming beautifully on the dry wilderness prairie.
A colorful contrast ...
And an open show of vulnerability
Baked poetry in purple-lined patterns marbeled into clay mountains.
Triangles of broken Gobstoppers layered in sequence.
Patterns of curiously colored ribbons stubbornly refusing and resisting muted conformity;
and depositing colored rainbows into clay.
Geological poetry baked into wilderness.
Erratic, systematic word composites creatively composed by erosion.
The beautiful Little Bighorn cloaked in gray and brown soft suade.
A true native of wilderness outfitted with dancing hooves for agilic movement;
fragile and almost dainty in appearance but lithe and penetrating on the heights.
Deep and wide set eyes,
 strong vision and lightning speed legs.
Curled weaponry and antler at the ready.
Resourceful and resilient ... the Little Bighorn sheep.
And she draws near,
an arm's reach away from me.
There are lines to be written in the Badlands;
 And souls of poets woven into the clay.
Marbeled words deep and telling in nature,
A velvet rose in the heat ...
 of the day.