Across Kilauea

Volcano erupting at night under starry sky


In heavy downpour,

blinded by somber clouds,

I stand on her high perimeter

imagining Halemaumau

far below, simmering

on the face of his mother caldera,

Kilauea, who, in 1967,

belched churning magma

from deep inside her volcanic body,

breaking through the hardened

crust to birth once again

her steaming son.


Now, I descend her green forest

shawl and enter the slumbering

landscape, where gray and

brown slabs recount

their pahoehoe history:

a twisting, heaving, popping

liquid inferno that cooled

into a still life of swirled meringue,

where steam spews from fissures

along razor-sharp edges

of ‘a’a lava, a story of smoked glass

shattered and strewn.


But regeneration tells its own tale

of hopeful impartiality: Seeds

wind-blown into her private spaces,

yield Ohia-lehua pioneers

that defy the cracked and heaved crust,

that rise from inhospitable crevices

to reveal blood red blossoms,

choice nectar of the ‘I’iwi,

one of the few survivors of this

Pacific archipelago’s

avian holocaust.


I move through

a dense curtain of pungent fog

to Halemaumau’s precipice,

his gaping maw streaked

black, copper, and white

adorned with gray cobbles.

I feel his torrid breath

and the power of devastation

held deep in his chest.


In the storm’s eye,

a striking stillness exposes

the paired forces

of destruction and renewal

and humanity’s choice

to mimic, assist, or impede

nature’s corollaries.


In the gray sky,

three white-tailed tropicbirds

circle slowly,

sentinels of light and resilience

above Kilauea’s distant rim.


Poem by Roxanne Bogart

Roxanne E. Bogart is a wildlife biologist and writer, whose poems have appeared in The Tiny Seed Literary Journal, The Burlington Poetry Journal, The Silkworm, and Poetry Quarterly. She spends her personal time hiking in the woods and meadows of Western Massachusetts, where she gathers inspiration and momentum for her writing. She is a member of the International League of Conservation Writers, the Academy of American Poets, and the Florence Poets Society, and lives in Amherst, MA with her family. Find out more about Roxanne Bogart at