FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
I had no idea the earth could breathe, which seems strange to me, since I know all things living do. So I stood there, staring at the mouth of our planet, spitting and gnarling like a wild animal. Its exhale had the stench of the devil, so acidic that the trees kneeled before it. This was the typical geyser at Yellowstone National Park. Tourists walked by, took pictures, and moved along through the steam, but their eyes were dull as if all they saw was a beast caged in by the boardwalk of Fountain Paint Pots. But I continued to stare at the geyser. It’s aggressive glare faded, the smell of evil vanished, and the gaping hole where its mouth was now sighing. The spit that flew out of its mouth turned to tears. All that was left of the beast was the mouth of the earth, breathing slowly. It breathed the same way every animal in the park did–with a deep sadness. It breathed the same way the moose did, surrounded by photographers and screaming children. It breathed the same way the osprey did, when the cars on the road all stopped to point at it. It breathed the same way the elk did crossing that field, only to find themselves in front of a busy gift shop and a line of people awaiting them. The breathing of the geyser, the earth, was complimenting the stress of its inhabitants. The park, it seemed, was a beautiful and peaceful spectacle in my eyes, but in others eyes, the place was just another zoo. The tourists never stopped to think about the flowing colors of the Grand Prismatic hot springs, and how much they looked like the pigments of the sunset, floating like an aura. They never stopped to try and imagine the heartbeats under the fur and feathers of the park. They never stopped to close their eyes after looking at the light on the trees and see their outlines imprinted in their mind as silhouettes of living phantoms, rooted to the earth–like everything else in the park. Even in the heart of the Yellowstone National Park, people saw things very separate, instead of seeing them connected with veins and blood.
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