The main thing I had going on today was attending my songwriter book club. I don’t write songs, though, I write poems. We read a book then write something either about or inspired by the book.
The book we read was called The Control of Nature. It was written in the late 80s, but I’m sure the things it discusses are still relevant today. It’s a non-fiction book with three essays: Atchafalaya, Cooling the Lava, and Los Angeles Against the Mountains. It’s about how humans have tried/are trying to control nature. The first section is about the Mississippi River and controlling its flow. The second is about a volcanic eruption in 1973 on an island off the coast of Iceland (plus some scenes in Hawaii). The third is about the San Gabriel Mountains here in LA.
It was tough reading.
Not because it was uninteresting, but I didn’t really take to his style of writing. The others felt the same, and almost everyone only read the first section. I am almost done with the last section, but it has taken me a couple months to get through this book in total.
Still, I wrote a poem, and it’s not about the book but inspired by it. Every poem I write lately seems to be about my dad in some way, including this one. While it has basis in truth, this portrait of him is not the whole of him. I saw a metaphor, and I ran with it.
My Father as Volcano
in that he was unpredictable
in his eruptions
in that those closest had to seek shelter
had to rebuild in the aftermath
in that his innermost thoughts
were always churning below the surface
in that it took time
in that offerings seemed
to appease him
in that, as years passed, we tended to
forget that they happened
though the landscape was altered
in that in his dormancy
it was easier to admire his natural state
in that, ultimately, there was nothing we could do
in that, upon his demise,
he was reduced to pebbles and ashes