by Meg Weston
For forty years I brought armloads of anthuriums
to the rim of a crater lake far from home, to curry favor
with a youthful goddess. Those sexy, heart-shaped flowers
with penis-like spadix, lay limp against the gaping black
of Halemaumau, hidden beneath a crust, hints of heat
in steam vents and cracks like etchings on the surface.
One night the lava lake broke open and I snuck in
to get the picture. Clouds rising in the night,
stars glittering over Mauna Loa like fireflies, my lens
wide open reflecting the red lake and tinted smoke rose
in streaks that appeared like light leaks on an old roll of film.
In the mist of early morning, I watched the sun’s first rays
illuminate steam flowing up steep rim walls to shroud
Lehua trees and giant ferns in a golden gauze, stars
faded from the sky while a pale moon set caressing
my bare arms, the sweet scent of hibiscus and bitter
smell of sulfur wrapped around me like a sheet.
Memories now fading to black where that lake once was.
I mourn the earth as it was when I was younger, the lake
now buried, cracked, and broken, words whispered
through a veil of time. My early morning swim in cold
Maine waters wrapped in fog, I hear a trill of loons
and know the past is no longer present.
Today is no better, no worse.
Meg Weston expresses her passion for volcanoes, geology and story in poetry, non-fiction, and photography. The geological forces that shape the earth and the stories that shape our lives are obsessions in Weston’s poetry and prose. She completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University in 2008. Following a successful career in business and media, Meg retired from her recent position as President of Maine Media Workshops + College in January 2020. She is the co-founder of www.thepoetscorner.org, and her work can also be found on her website www.volcanoes.com.
One response to “Elegy for Halemaumau”
This is such a beautiful piece Meg. You have captured the magic and mystery of Hawaii and Pele and I feel better as the thermometer keeps sliding lower tonight in our frozen Maine. Bill and I are hoping to spend some real time on Kauai next winter. Perhaps we will meet there? Or here when it thaws? Take care and congratulations on your publication. Lisa