Driving through the Rainer valley
I kept my eye on the looming volcano
and ignored my parents with best intentions
on the way to the cut-your-own
Christmas Tree Farm despite the snow,
the cold, and my complete disinterest
in participating. The land, dotted with farms
and bejeweled with emerald pine trees,
was flat until it was interrupted by the lava-filled, snow-
capped, trembling natural menace. 150 years
of silence, of unnatural waiting in a natural
state. The sun was shining on the mountain
but clouds left irregular blotches and blemishes
on the white snow ridges up until even the clouds
could not, would not dare, to climb that high.
In the field of Christmas trees, behind the red barn
and the white cups filled with hot cider, I brush
snowflakes off the needles, incongruously named
because they are quite soft to the touch and smell
like new life and memories. We wander from Jeffery
Pines to Noble Firs and end up at a Blue Spruce
that causes tremors and fills me with the warmth
of hot ash.
Ten years later on Tuckamony Farms the terrain
is less volcanic though a slowly growing mountain,
shifting, unpredictable, and building to an eventual eruption,
greets the customers. They ask to touch, hands already
reaching, and they giggle as a tiny foot hits
their hand through the protective
layers, like snow, of flesh.
Ten weeks later the explosion is Pelean -
the slow growth of a lava spine before
an eruption and then sudden, unalterable, change.
The lava flow disrupts the landscape,
transforms the population, and creates something new.
I brush baby powder off his legs, and feel
gas slugs of love pop, like soap bubbles,
in the confines of my rib cage.