natural history

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
The backdrop of the Hawaiian volcanoes landscape is the basis for this poem of a long ago lost love..

Submitted: June 29, 2017

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Submitted: June 29, 2017

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Natural History

the way o'hia lehua races out of the lava
to flower as a red firework explosion

the way after two decades of growth
a silversword stalk shoots upwards
to blossom like a celebratory rocket,
then collapses into a gray ball of dust

the secret magical names of rocks,
the strange symbiotic habits of lichens;
these intricacies of life you taught me
on these Mauna Loa slopes you loved

around your delicate neck I laid a lei
without your books you identified instantly
the woven strands of Cuscuta sandwichia:
a parasitic vine that stunts all that it clings to

and when you talked of extinct native birds
the honeycreepers and nectar suckers
your voice sounded like a bird-song itself
I couldn't resist, like the insistent pressure
of a volcano in the earth's crust, to kiss you

then you taught me how our bodies
could flow together with the slow strength
of pahoehoe as it streams and crackles
down the slopes of a mountain --

until it cools, solidifies, becomes inert:
a rough and brittle chunk of rock.

two decades later I wander these trails
like a parasite vine clinging to life
sucking all its essential nutrients
and giving only poison in return

and I'm remembering most of all
the last lesson you taught me:
the way we've followed the history
natural to all things -- on wide calderas
melted by hot magma, or by searching
for nectar in flowers that are no more --
by slowly, finally, ceasing to exist.

 


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