Just get over it, she says,
words spewing like hot lava
from icy lips; intention beside
the point and yet how could I
have understood back then?
She would remain forever mute
on the origins of that rage
and I had the rest of my life
yet to figure it out;

Fifty-five years later,
soles of my sneakers burning,
legs quaking involuntarily, gazing
into fissures snaking red with liquid
earth, ambling along swirly hued
ebony rock cooled now into solid
only barely; to gaze, open-mouthed,
as fiery flows spilled forth, mauka
to makai, plumes of billowing smoke
arching high into the waning light;
stars swimming in mirages of heat
while the surf pounded incessantly,
though try as it might, it could not
beat back an expanding shoreline;

On the the path again, heads full
of wonder, while these feet,
long alienated from restriction
of canvas and sole, began swelling
and bulging like some alien creature
yearning to range free, and I am once
again struck by the irony in her words,
If the shoe fits, wear it;

But I’m tired now mama, and my feet
are blistered and raw; still I see you
more clearly through exhaustion
and defeat and your pain suffuses me
with sorrow for all who suffer this
volcanic process of purge and birth,
forging new land into harbors
for the heart.

(Kalapana lava flow 2017 ~ bj)


14 thoughts on “Plume

    1. Mahalo, Eliza. I agree with your observations.

      This poem is a bit more complicated than it might seem. It’s not strictly personal and yet again it is. My sisters had it far worse than I, so it’s like I wrote this while feeling that collective childhood oppression.

      I loved my mother, but she was a deeply flawed individual. Perhaps we all are. But in the end, I feel a great upswelling of compassion for her for what she was unable to open up to in this life. She just couldn’t venture beyond knee-jerk reflexes. Thus the last lines are written for her as much anyone, “all who suffer this … volcanic process of purge and birth,” for we all do, whether we would call it that or not. Surely she felt that quaking but was never able to “forge new land into harbors for (her) heart,” which is so sad.

      Thanks for taking time to comment and for your thoughts, dear one – always welcome. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Amazing imagery and style Bela, this poem took my heart away! I can understand ‘hot lava’ from ‘icy lips’ too well …the plume never ceases even when you reach at the fag end of your life, even after forgiveness just out of no other choice, memories keep gnawing, however hard you try to dismiss them. Some fissures keep getting wider and deeper and our feet firmly embedded in them as if shackled by unknown forces or emotions?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Balroop, I am so glad you liked this offering. I love your phrase ‘forgiveness just out of no other choice.’ Makes me think anyone can forgive, even if they don’t think they can. One finally realizes they are only swallowing the poison themselves, waiting for the other to die. As is said.

      What it took for me (still takes, should an assault on my noble heart arise) was and is distance, physical and mental. From that space, I can recognize they are blind to their own folly. For whatever reason, they have been unwilling to confront their own darkest nature. I just end up feeling sad for them.

      You are so astute with your own metaphor, “fissures … getting wider and deeper and … feet firmly embedded in them as if shackled by unknown forces or emotions” ! Whether stubbornness or fear or for whatever reason, there you are. The human condition. Well said. Aloha ❀

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Love this post, Bela. The pain’s always there; the pain of giving birth, then the pain suffered by both in the growing up years. “She would remain forever mute on the origins of that rage” – remaining mute might be strategic without strategising (from my personal experience). It requires wisdom from both ends, which is found wanting since every phase of our maturing life is already demanding tons of our energy and consciousness. So it’s perhaps sane to leave things be – and don’t deal with them until very late in the years when one is involuntarily willing to accept, forgive, and love?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aloha Mahesh, you do well to perceive these thoughts in the way you do. This was a didactic woman, though that clearly (to me anyway) was a self preservation strategy. I do think if she had ever been able to let that rage out of the bag, whether with a counselor or through some sort of self reflective process, she might have embraced life instead of wanting to be rid of it for many years. It was a heck of a thing too, as her child, to hear how much she wanted to “be with loved ones on the other side of the veil.” If I were Rodney Dangerfield, I would have said, “And what am I? Chopped liver?” And we’ll leave it at that πŸ˜‰ Thanks for reading! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, my love. People are so complex. As I said in an earlier comment, this was written more from a collective viewpoint. I really did experience the best this poor woman had to offer. She was a damaged soul, bless her. I hold no bitterness toward her. And I know you had it far worse than I.

      The poem was written on a prompt from my longtime Renshi poetry group, where we begin with the previous poet’s last line. It just wrote itself. Still, I was pleased with how it came out so I published it here. Aloha, my friend. And peace. πŸ’πŸŒΊπŸŒˆβ€οΈ

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘still I see you
    more clearly through exhaustion
    and defeat and your pain suffuses me
    with sorrow for all who suffer this
    volcanic process of purge and birth,
    forging new land into harbors
    for the heart.’ – Absolutely love this. It’s a strong piece throughout mind you and hold the reader tight in its grip. Retrospect is another country that awaits us again and again.

    – Esme applauding upon the Cloud


    1. Mahalo, esme. Yes, reflection seems compelling these days, especially. I find as I wax into my elder years, I have the luxury of time and space to ponder much. It becomes easier to view those who have done harmful things as mostly incapable of doing otherwise. We are products of our own history, even perhaps our DNA, but it certainly doesn’t mean that is the sum total of who and what we are. Change is possible, long as we draw breath. It may just have been far too frightening for her to contemplate, and I feel deeply for that insufficiency. Aloha ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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