Under the Caldera

By Brandon Marlon



We enter nature, refugees from society’s whirl,

to aerate our hopes and fears

in the shadow of a mount set to eruct

at a moment’s notice, if we’re lucky.

Blithe peons with palms caked in humus

moil in a cento of greens and browns below

while we spiral up scree and lava volutes,

the air redolent of roasted shoat and manure.


As questers we attain altitude steadily

en route to the lofty crest of success,

with every step leaving far behind

niggling concerns and gnawing doubts,

the narrowed world making ogres of trifles;

instead we attune to gentle wind melodies,

a lambent scherzo easing our limbs

and encouraging our aims.


The incline tapers towards the summit

and soon we peer into the cuplike vent

of steam and ashes, effluent orifice

of the good earth. Gaining the peak,

we crown ourselves with weed chaplets

and chuckle, footsore and sweating,

subject to light and distant vistas of ocean,

grateful for intimacy even amid

wide open spaces, knowing that

love, like light, is its own dividend.