Never mended my blind spot—thought the volcano swerved A graphic novel monster, stationary molten rock At Windy Ridge, Mount St. Helens, 30 years post-eruption Cartoon-like, cracked. [hr_padding] Cell phone powers up approaching the ridge—four bars. A series of beeps in your pocket Imagine those hikers falling from a snow cornice Thinking they stood on solid rock, not packed snow Posing for a photo, they slid down the south face Blurred in winter’s majestic light, flashes of old growth forest Charred in pyroclastic flow No more solid than the peak that once glistened distant On blue Portland days What you can’t fathom finds you Objects unto obliteration.
Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. – Daniel 12:2
Poets and scientists struggle to explain, to grasp volcanology—a pyroclastic flow is rapid turbulent hot gas undulating escaping fragments ash rock lahar mudflow liquid fires flying domes collapsing upon themselves We cannot stay away
“Private property” cannot appease public needs the towers fell in fragments scattered beneath the rubble spirits smoldering
Large tephra chunks of Lapilli (Italian, for the ash of Vesuvius) Species return, some new to the Cascade plain where forest had thrived We live with embers What about a simple memorial? A national monument for all who pray or cry Volcanic insides expose hot air Who speaks? Light hits the pit where rubble lingers I hear something.
Cheryl J. Fish has poems online at Big City Lit and Not Enough Night, and in the Tribeca Poetry Review, New American Writing, and The Village Voice. She has written essays on environmental justice in a Harlem architectural design between June Jordan and Buckminster Fuller, and her piece on ethnicity and ecojustice in the works of Ruth Ozeki and Judith Helfand appeared in the journal MELUS. She was a Fulbright Lecturer in Finland, and writer-in-residence at the Science Pulse at Mt. Saint Helens Volcanic National Monument in 2010, where these poems were inspired.