Today I’ve been thinking about Kilauea, the volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii that’s been reshaping the island’s terrain continuously since 1983.

I’m not sure why.

Perhaps because I was there around this time last year…

Perhaps because thinking about something red hot feels good after a long cold white winter…

Perhaps the approaching spring equinox brings the volcano to mind, since they are both about transformation and new beginnings, and not always pretty, at least at first…

Perhaps  I need to be reminded that the blaze of Creation is a deeper, more powerful fire than the smoky flame of anger and conflict we contend with constantly these days…

Perhaps I simply miss Pele.

Here is a poem I wrote in 2010, after seeing the glowing caldera of Kilauea—the realm of the goddess Pele–at night for the first time.




She is there,

stirring fire in Her enormous cauldron,

simmering stew,

plume of sulfurous breath rising,


blood red in the black night,

a primordial witch’s kettle visible for miles.


“Stare—admire me—be afraid of me if you must.

You think me wild and dangerous.

I am

and I have been so since the beginning of time.

But—kinswoman—so are you.

You, too, kindled by subterranean shifts

fanned by passion and instinct

fire up your cauldron

simmer what is needed

and when it is time,

burn away the obsolete to forge the new.

Fire to flesh to fire to flesh . . .


You know this.

Live it.”


Have you seen Halema’uma’u caldera? At night?

What are you forging in your cauldron of creation?

(Photo taken by Tom Peek.)