This was written several years ago after a trip out west to Yellowstone. We had a cabin close to Old Faithful and I remember the uneasy slumber I had trying to sleep on a volcano’s caldera. I am posting this in tribute of a friend of mine who will be spending the next few months working in its environs

Yellowstone’s Uneasy Slumber

Life clings to the volcano’s scalp.
His teeth erode, cavities form.
Saliva pools into pristine lakes,
spills into rivers cascading down his chin.

Not aroused in millennia,
he coughs in his sleep, snorts,
spits wide into the sky through open pores,
a rainbow dances along a hissing plume.

He hasn’t shaved in years.
Bristles of lodgepole pines
pierce toward heaven’s blue.
Burns across his cheeks heal
with renewed urgent growth,
scars cover in hues of green.

Hear and there steam rises into mists,
bubbling mud pots, crackling water—
a scald pocks his skin in places.
Reminders his feet root deep
through earth’s crust, thrusting
toes to warm in the molten lakes
seeping from crevices deep in her mantle.

c. Darlene Moore Berg


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