From the Tent on the Volcano: July 2005

(This poem was written at Ryan Lake Camp on Mount St Helens, where I was staying with a wonderful “foray” organised by the Spring Creek Project of Oregon State University. I had been on the mountain the year after the 1980 eruption and spent a long, hard day in the immense devastation, which seemed irreparable. It was amazing to come back 25 years later to the same places and find them utterly changed, the mountain remaking herself in her own way and time, not only with the upwelling magma in her crater, but in all the great and small lives on her slopes.)

The mist lifts off the little lake down there,
Way down, across a gulf of shining air.

The upward spiral song of Swainson’s thrush,
The white-crown’s teedle-eedle in the hush:

There is such singing in the morning, where
Was only silence, and grey dust, and ash.

“We are her children, we are in her care,
Our kind destroyer,” sings the mountain thrush.